Report No. 24
30. Section 5-Contempt of Commission.-
(1) We have discussed elsewhere1 the question as to the extent to which protection can be secured to Commissions of Inquiry in respect of scurrilous and scandalous attacks on them. Section 5 may accordingly be amended by the insertion of a sub-section2 making it an offence to publish any statement or do any other ad calculated to bring the Commission or any member thereof into disrepute.
(2) Certain procedural questions have been raised in connection with this offence. It has been suggested to us, that in view of the status of the members of the Commission who generally include a Judge of a High Court or the Supreme Court, the offence should be triable by a High Court exclusively. It was further suggested that in the trial of the proposed new offence the personal attendance of members of the Commission should be dispensed with and that an Exception should be made to section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, which requires the examination of the complainant.
Further, it was suggested, the offence should be triable as a summons case and a provision should be made on the lines of the proviso to section 244(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 which confers on the court a discretion to hear the complainant or not. We have given careful consideration to all these suggestions. We feel that, taking all the circumstances into consideration, the procedure already prescribed in section 198B of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, in respect of defamation of high dignitaries of the State (including the President and the Vice-President) and public servants generally, would be suitable for this offence also.
Section 198B of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, provides that any offence falling under Chapter XXI of the Indian Penal Code (sections 499 to 502-a group of sections relating to defamation) against the President, Vice-President etc., shall be triable by a Court of Session. The section also lays down a special procedure for the trial of such offences. The Sessions Court can take cognizance of the offence without the accused,being committed to it for trial, upon the complaint in writing of the Public Prosecutor.
The Court may also, for reasons to be recorded in writing, refrain from examining the person against whom the offence is committed. Since a special procedure thus already exists for an analogous offence, we feel that there is no strong case for creating a new procedure by making the offence triable by a High Court exclusively and thus laying down a different procedure for more or less similar offences.
1. See para. 12, supra.
2. See App I, section 5(5) as proposed.