Allahabad High Court Judgement

Allahabad High Court Judgement

This is an UNCERTIFIED copy for information/reference. For authentic copy please refer to certified copy only. In case of any mistake, please bring it to the notice at mail@myadvocates.club
JUDGEMENT HEADLINE : Contempt Notice Issued To Editor And Others, Hindustan Times To Appear In Court On 13.12.2010
JUDGEMENT TITLE : Vikas Tiwari Vs. State Of U.P. & Others On 11/11/2010 By Allahabad High Court
CASE NO : CONTEMPT APPLICATION (CRIMINAL) NO. 20 OF 2010
CORAM : Hon'ble Imtiyaz Murtaza,J. And Hon'ble Ashok Srivastava,J.

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD


Court No. - 44

Case :- CONTEMPT APPLICATION (CRIMINAL) No. - 20 Of 2010

Petitioner :- Vikas Tiwari
Respondent :- State Of U.P. & Others
Petitioner Counsel :- Rajiv Lochan Shukla

Hon'ble Imtiyaz Murtaza,J.
Hon'ble Ashok Srivastava,J.

The Present Petition Has Been Preferred By The Petitioner Namely Vikas Tiwari Who Is A Practicing Advocate Of This Court In Which It Has Been Prayed That The Respondents Who Are Connected With The Publication Of Offending Report In Hindustan Times Dated Sept 20, 2010, Be Proceeded Against Under The Contempt Of Court Act By Taking Suo Motu Cognizance Of The Matter For Their Acts Of Scandalizing The Court By Making Reckless Allegation Against The Sitting Chief Justice Imputing To Him To Have Passed The Administrative Order Which It Is Further Alleged Inured To The Advantage Of Smt Mayawati Chief Minister Of The State. It Is Therefore Alleged That They Have Thus Diminished The Authority Of This Court By Vilifying The Chief Justice By Irrelevant And Unvarnished Imputations Besides Interfering With Due Course Of Judicial Proceedings.

The Respondents Herein Are Connected With The Publication Of Offending Report In Hindustan Times Dated Sept 20,2010 Under The Heading "Maya's Taj Case Taken From Judge. Further Sub Heading In The Newspapers Mentions " Curious Turn-Allahabad HC Chief Justice Splits Rs 175 Cr Scam Case Into Two, Another Judge To Look Into Criminal Charges. The News Item Has Been Published As HT Exclusive By Nagendar Sharma. It Is Argued That The Report Has Been Published In Such A Way As To Convey An Impression In The Mind Of General Public That The Administration Of Justice Can Be Prevented, Prejudiced, Obstructed Or Interfered With And Thus Has The Potentiality To Shake The Confidence Of The Litigating Public In The System.

The Petitioner Has Adverted To Certain Offending Passages In The Article. In Para 12, The Petitioner Has Adverted To Paragraph No. 1 And 2 Of The Article As Under:

"New Delhi: The Seniormost Judge At The Lucknow Bench Of The Allahabad High Court, Justice Pradeep Kant, Has Been Suddenly Divested Of The Case Challenging Closure Of Taj Corridor Case Against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, Which He Had Been Hearing Since Last 18 Months."

In A Move Bound To Raise Questions, The Allahabad High Court Chief Justice J.I Rebello, Has Issued Two Administrative Orders- Copies Of Which Are Available With Hindustan Times- On August 28 And 31`, Which Take Away The Controversial Case From The Bench Headed By Justice Kant."

In Para 13, The Petitioner Has Adverted To Paragraph No 3 Of The News Item Which Reads As Under:

"The Orders By Justice Rebello Came Barely Nine Days After He Had Met The Chief Minister And Her Senior Party Colleague, Satish Chandra Mishra At Lucknow On August 19."

In Para 14, The Petitioner Has Referred To Paragraph No. 7 Of The News Item Which Reads As Follows.

"The August 31, Order Makes It Clear That Matters Related To Sanction Of Prosecution Will No Longer Be Heard By Justice Kant."

In Para 21, The Petitioner Has Stated That From Bare Perusal Of The Said News Item, It Is Apparent That The Respondents Have Wilfully Acted In Publishing The Said News Item For The Reason That The Version Of The Hon'ble High Court, Allahabad, Through Its Any Responsible Officer, Was Not Taken Prior To The Publishing Of The Said News Item To Have A Satisfaction About The Authenticity Of The Facts Mentioned In The News Item, Although The News Item Contains The Statement In Paragraph No 11 As Follows:

"Justice Rebello Was Not Available For His Comments. Hon'ble Lordship Is Out Of Allahabad Till September 27; His Office Said. Justice Kant Declined To Comment On The Issue."

On The Matter Being Called Out, The Petitioner Restricted His Arguments To Prefatory Submissions That The Court Should Initiate Suo Motu Action In The Matter In Exercise Of Powers Conferred Under Section 15(1) Of The Contempt Of Courts Act, 1971.

Before Proceeding Further We Must First Take Up The Question Whether We Should Initiate Contempt Proceedings Against The Respondents Suo Motu. Or Whether We Should Treat The Petition As A Contempt Petition At The Behest Of The Petitioner.

It Is Clear That The Present Contempt Was Initiated Without The Consent Of The Advocate General. However, A Question Which Arises, Is Whether Even Without The Consent Of The Advocate General, Can This Court Initiate Contempt Proceedings On Its Own Motion, If It Is Satisfied That The Allegations Referred To In The Petition Brings The Case Within The Relevant Clauses Defining Criminal Contempt In Section 2 (c) Of The Contempt Of Courts Act, 1971.

In Connection With The Submission As Aforesaid Whether The Petition Should Be Treated As Suo Motu, Suffice It To Say That The Apex Court In S.K.Sarkar V. Vinay Chand Misra AIR 1981 SC 723 Has Ruled As Under:

"18. It Is, However, To Be Noted That Section 15 Does Not Specify The Basis Or The Source Of Information On Which The High Court Can Act On Its Own Motion. If The High Court Acts On Information Derived From Its Own Sources, Such As From A Perusal Of The Records Of A Subordinate Court Or On Reading A Report In A News. Paper Or Hearing A Public Speech, Without There Being Any Reference From The Subordinate Court Or The Advocate-General, It Can Be Said To Have Taken Cognizance On Its Own Motion. But If The High Court Is Directly Moved By A Petition By A Private Person Feeling Aggrieved, Not Being The Advocate-General, Can The High Court Refuse To Entertain The Same On The Ground That It Has Been Made Without The Consent In Writing Of The Advocate-General ? It Appears To Us That The High Court Has, In Such A Situation, A Discretion To Refuse To Entertain The Petition Or To Take Cognizance On Its Own Motion On The Basis Of The Information Supplied To It In That Petition. If The Petitioner Is A Responsible Member Of The Legal Profession, It May Act Suo Motu, More So, If The Petitioner-advocate, As In The Instant Case, Prays That The Court Should Act Suo Motu. The Whole Object Of Prescribing These Procedural Modes Of Taking Cognizance In Section 15 Is To Safeguard The Valuable Time Of The High Court Or The Supreme Court From Being Wasted By Frivolous Complaints Of Contempt Of Court. If The High Court Is Prima Facie Satisfied That The Information Received By It Regarding The Commission Of Contempt Of A Subordinate Court Is Not Frivolous, And The Contempt Alleged Is Not Merely Technical Or Trivial, It May, In Its Discretion, Act Suo Motu And Commence The Proceedings Against The Contemner. However, This Mode Of Taking Suo Motu Cognizance Of Contempt Of A Subordinate Court, Should Be Resorted To Sparingly Where The Contempt Concerned Is Of A Grave And Serious Nature. Frequent Use Of This Suo Motu Power On The Information Furnished By An Incompetent Petition, May Render These Procedural Safeguards Provided In Sub-section (2), Otiose. In Such Cases, The High Court May Be Well Advised To Avail Of The Advice And Assistance Of The Advocate-General Before Initiating Proceedings."

The Apex Court Also Referred To The Advice And Opinion Of Sanyal Committee In Which Advice Was Expressed In The Following Terms.

"The Advice And Opinion, In This Connection, Expressed By The Sanyal Committee Is A Pertinent Reminder : "In The Case Of Criminal Contempt, Not Being Contempt Committed In The Face Of The Court, We Are Of The Opinion That It Would Lighten The Burden Of The Court, Without In Any Way Interfering With The Sanctity Of The Administration Of Justice, If Action Is Taken On A Motion By Some Other Agency. Such A Course Of Action Would Give Considerable Assurance To The Individual Charged And The Public At Large. Indeed, Some High Courts Have Already Made Rules For The Association Of The Advocate-General In Some Categories Of Cases At Least ......... The Advocate-General May, Also, Move The Court Not Only On His Own Motion But Also At The Instance Of The Court Concerned..........."

In Bal Thackrey V. Harish Pimpalkhute (AIR 2005 SC 396), The Observation Of The Apex Court Is Quoted Below.

" 22. In These Matters, The Question Is Not About Compliance Or Non-compliance Of The Principles Of Natural Justice By Granting Adequate Opportunity To The Appellant But Is About Compliance Of The Mandatory Requirements Of Section 15 Of The Act. As Already Noticed The Procedure Of Section 15 Is Required To Be Followed Even When A Petition Is Filed By A Party Under Article 215 Of The Constitution, Though In These Matters Petitions Filed Were Under Section 15 Of The Act. From The Material On Record, It Is Not Possible To Accept The Contention Of The Respondents That The Court Had Taken Suo Motu Action. Of Course, The Court Had The Power And Jurisdiction To Initiate Contempt Proceedings Suo Motu And For That Purpose Consent Of The Advocate-General Was Not Necessary. At The Same Time, It Is Also To Be Borne In Mind That The Courts Normally Take Suo Motu Action In Rare Cases. In The Present Case, It Is Evident That The Proceedings Before The High Court Were Initiated By The Respondents By Filing Contempt Petitions Under Section 15. The Petitions Were Vigorously Pursued And Strenuously Argued As Private Petitions. The Same Were Never Treated As Suo Motu Petitions. In Absence Of Compliance Of Mandatory Requirement Of Section 15, The Petitions Were Not Maintainable." (Emphasis Added)

It Is Thus Clearly Provided That Even If The Petition Is Preferred By A Private Person, The Court Has Jurisdiction To Take Suo Motu Cognizance Of The Matter In Its Contempt Jurisdiction, If It Considers It To Be A Fit Case For Taking Cognizance. It Is Further Clarified In The Law Report That Such Suo Motu Action May Be Taken Only In Rare Cases. From The Above Reasoning It Is Clear, That Even In The Absence Of A Motion Or Consent In Writing Of The Advocate General, Suo Motu Action For Contempt Can Be Initiated By The Court, If It Considers It To Be A Fit Case.

Now The Question Arises Whether The Ingredients For Initiating Action Under The Contempt Of Courts Act Are Discernible And Whether This Case Falls In The Category Of The Rare Cases Where Notice To Show Cause Should Be Issued To The Alleged Contemners.

An Analysis Of The Article Shows That The Article Appears To Be A Roving Indictment Of The Chief Justice Of The Allahabad High Court The Respondents Herein Are Connected With The Publication Of Offending Report In Hindustan Times Dated Sept 20,2010 Under The Heading "Maya's Taj Case Taken From Judge. Further Sub Heading In The Newspapers Mentions " Curious Turn-Allahabad HC Chief Justice Splits Rs 175 Cr Scam Case Into Two, Another Judge To Look Into Criminal Charges." The News Item Has Been Published As HT Exclusive By Nagendar Sharma. There Appears To Be Substance In The Argument That The Report Has Been Published In Such A Way As To Convey An Impression In The Mind Of General Public That The Administration Of Justice Can Be Prevented, Prejudiced, Obstructed Or Interfered With And Thus Has The Potentiality To Shake The Confidence Of The Litigating Public In The System.

We Feel Called To Say That Before Making The Suggestive Imputation Prejudging Chief Justice Rebello As Guilty Of Having Transferred The Case In An Indirect Manner To Favour Chief Minister Mayawati As Guilty, No Care Has Been Taken For Verifying The Correct Facts Before Publishing The Offending News Item.

In This Connection, A Clarification Issued By The Registrar Dated 28.9.10 Has Been Placed Before Us, From Which It Is Eloquent That The Administrative Order Was Issued By The Chief Justice On 20.8.2010 Conferring Exclusive Powers On A Bench Headed By Justice Pradeep Kant To Hear Cases Of Civil PILs, And Justice A. Mateen To Hear Criminal PILs At The Lucknow Bench Of The Allahabad High Court, On A Note Put Up By The Registry At The Lucknow Bench On July 23, 2010 Based On A Report Of The Computer Section Regarding The Huge Pendency Of PIL Matters And The Need For Bifurcation Of Such Matters Into Two Categories, Civil And Criminal. For Allahabad Likewise Exclusive Powers For Hearing Civil PILs Has Been Reserved By The Chief Justice's Bench While For PILs Relating To Criminal Matters Has Been Assigned To The Bench Headed By One Of Us (I.Murtaza J) By An Administrative Circular Of The Chief Justice Dated 27.8.2010. The Circular Further Envisages That The Chief Justice Has Directed That In The Event It Was Not Possible For The PIL (Civil) Bench To Take Up The Matters, The PIL (Civil) Matters Would Be Heard By A Bench Hearing PIL (Criminal) Matters, And Vice Versa, Unless There Be A Specific Order Of The Chief Justice To The Contrary. In The Absence Of Both The Aforesaid Benches, The Matters Would Be Taken Over By The Bench Presided Over By The Senior Most Judge.

However, So Far As The Taj Corridor Case Is Concerned It Needs To Be Clarified That Even After The Issuance Of The Chief Justice's Administrative Circular Dated 20.8.2010, The Case (Anupma Singh V. CBI And Others, C.M. Application No. 19884 Of 2010 And Connected Matters Rendered In Misc Writ Petition 2087 (M/B) Of 2009), Was Heard By The Bench Of Hon'ble Pradeep Kant J And Hon'ble Shabihul Hasnain J On 23.9.10 And A Miscellaneous Matter Was Disposed Of, And The Bench Itself Passed An Order That The Writ Petition Be Posted For Hearing In The Next Month Before The Regular Bench.

In These Circumstances, Prima Facie, It Appears Unfair To Impute Motives To The Chief Justice That He Had Taken Away The Case Relating To The Sanction For Prosecution Of Smt. Mayawati In The Taj Corridor Matter In An Unfair Manner From The Bench Of Justice Pradeep Kant, As The Note Clarifies That Owing To The Huge Backlog Of PIL Matters, For Administrative Convenience, PIL Matters Have Been Bifurcated Into Two Categories, With Civil PILs In Lucknow Being Taken Up By A Bench Headed By Justice Pradeep Kant, And PILs Relating To Criminal Matters Being Heard By A Bench Headed By Justice A. Matin.

The Ruling Of The Chief Justice That PILs Relating To Sanctions For Prosecution Under Section 197 (1) Cr.P.C. Or Section 19 Of The Prevention Of Corruption Act Also Fall In The Category Of Criminal Matters And Are To Be Heard By A Bench Hearing Criminal PILs Cannot Be Legally Faulted.

In The Facts And Circumstances As Stated Supra, We Are Satisfied That This Is One Of Those Cases Where The Court Should Take Suo Motu Action.

On Consideration Of The Above Facts, It Would Ex-facie Appear That The Ingredients Of Section 2 (C ) Of The Contempt Of Court Act, 1971 Are Disclosed And The Alleged Contemnors Have Made Themselves Liable To Be Prosecuted Under Section 2 (C)of The Contempt Of Court Act, 1971 Punishable Under Section 12 Of The Said Act.

The Article Has Been Attributed To Have Been Jointly Processed For Publication By The Respondents Sanjoy Narayan Editor In Chief Hindustan Times, Sunita Aron, Senior Resident Editor, Hindustan Times, M.Venkatesh, Printer And Publisher, Hindustan Times And Nagendra Sharma Reporter/Correspondent Hindustan Times Who Have Been Arrayed As Respondents 1 To 4 In The Petition.

Let Notice Be Issued To The Respondents Accordingly To Appear In Court On 13.12.2010 At 10 Am Intimating That The Court Has Taken Suo Motu Cognizance Of The Matter And To Show Cause Why Charges Be Not Framed For Making The Contemptuous Statements Outlined Above, Which Denigrate The Chief Justice And The Judiciary Generally And Tend To Scandalize And Lower The Authority Of This Court And To Prejudice The Due Course Of Judicial Proceedings. Let The Case Be Put Up Before The Chief Justice For Assigning A Bench For Regular Hearing In The Matter On The Next And Subsequent Dates.

As We Have Held Above It Is Directed That The Name Of The Petitioner Shall Be Deleted From The Array Of Parties And The Case Should Be Treated As One Where The Court Has Taken Suo Motu Action In The Matter, And Described As RE: In The Matter Of Contempt By The Hindustan Times.

Copy Of The Notice Shall Also Be Given To The Registrar General, Allahabad High Court And The Government Advocate.

Go to Navigation