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Report No. 200

Bill of 1963 Prepared by Sanyal Committee Refers to 'imminent' Proceedings:

In the Contempt of Courts Bill, 1963 annexed to the Report of the Sanyal Committee, section 3 deals with "Innocent publication and distribution of matter not contempt" and refers to "any criminal proceeding pending or imminent" at the time of publication which is calculated to interfere with the course of justice. Section 3 in that Bill reads thus:

"Section 3: Innocent Publication and distribution of matter not contempt: (1) A person shall not be guilty of contempt of court on the ground that he has published any matter calculated to interfere with the course of justice in connection with

(a) any criminal proceeding pending or imminent at the time of publication, if at the time he had no reasonable grounds for believing that the proceeding was pending or, as the case may be, imminent;

(b) any civil proceeding pending at the time of publication, if at that time he had no reasonable grounds for believing that the proceeding was pending.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in any law for the time being in force, a person shall not be guilty of contempt of court on the ground that he has published any such matter as is mentioned in subsection (1) in connection with any civil proceeding imminent at the time of publication, merely because the proceeding was imminent.

(3) A person shall not be guilty of Contempt of Court on the ground that he has distributed a publication containing any such matter as is mentioned in subsection (1), if at the time of distribution he had no reasonable grounds for believing that it contained any such matter as aforesaid or that it was likely to do so.

(4) The burden of proving any fact to establish on defence afforded by this section to any person in proceedings for Contempt of Court shall be upon that person.

Provided that, where in respect of the commission of an offence no arrest has been made, it shall be presumed until the contrary is proved that a person accused of Contempt of Court in relation thereto had no reasonable grounds for believing that any proceeding in respect thereof was imminent.

Explanation: For the purposes of this section, a judicial proceeding -

(a) is said to be pending until it is heard and finally decided, that is to say, in a case where an appeal or revision is competent, until the appeal or revision is heard and finally decided or where no appeal or revision is preferred, until the period of limitation prescribed for such appeal or revision has expired.

(b) which has been heard and finally decided shall not be deemed to be pending by reason of the fact that proceedings for execution of the decree, order or sentence passed therein are pending."

Thus, the Sanyal Committee specifically protected the interests of the suspect where criminal proceedings were pending or imminent, if the person who made the publication had no reasonable grounds for believing that the proceeding was pending or imminent. Under subsection (3), if he had reasonable grounds for believing that the publication did not contain any matters as aforesaid calculated to interfere with the course of justice, there was no contempt. The proviso to section 3(4) stated that if no arrest has been made, it shall be presumed that there are no reasonable grounds for believing that proceedings are imminent. But this position, as to date of arrest, was given up by the Joint Committee of Parliament in 1968-70.



Trial by Media free speech and fair trial under Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 Back




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