Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Judgments of courts can be commented upon, analyzed and criticized

Courtesy: Geek Upd8

Posted: 03 Sep 2013 03:29 PM PDT


Before :- Y.K. Sabharwal & Tarun Chatterjee, JJ. 
Criminal Appeal Nos. 398-399 of 2001. D/d. 21.4.2005

Rajendra Sail - Appellant
Madhya Pradesh High Court Bar Association & Ors. - Respondents

[With Criminal Appeal Nos. 403-404/2001 and 461-462/2001]

For the Appellant in C.A. Nos. 398-99 of 2001 :- Sanjay Parikh, Naveen R. Nath, Ms. Lalit Mohini Bhat, Ms. Anitha Shenoy, Ms. Hetu Arora and Sharan Dev Singh Thakur, Advocates.
For the Appellant in C.A. Nos. 403-404 of 2001 :- K.K. Venugopal, Sr. Advocate and A.K. Sanghi, Advocate.
For the Appellant in C.A. Nos. 461-462 of 2001 :- In-person (NP).
For the Respondent :- Shiv Kumar Tiwari, Ms. Jaishree Tandon, Sakesh Kumar and Ms. Kamakshi S. Mehlwal, Advocates.

A. Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Sections 2(c), 11 and 12 - Contempt of Court - High Court acquitting the accused in a murder case - It was published in newspaper that decision of High Court was rubbish and one of the Judges was bribed and that Judge possessed properties disproportionate to his income - The news was published on basis of interview given by an associate of deceased to Correspondent of newspaper - High Court held the Editor, Printer, Publisher and Correspondent 'guilty' of Contempt - High Court did not accept their apology and sentenced each of them to undergo 6 months S.I. - The Contemners accepted their mistake and tendered unconditional apology - Conviction set aside with warning that in future they should be more careful and responsible in exercise of their duty towards the public, in providing fair, accurate and impartial information - In this view, sentence awarded to them is set aside. 1996(3) RCR(Crl.) 665 (SC) relied. 
[Paras 40 and 49] 
B. Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Sections 2(c), 11 and 12 - Contempt of Court - Judgments of courts are public documents and can be commented upon, analyzed and criticized, but it has to be in dignified manner without attributing motives - Before placing before public, whether on print or electronic media, all concerned have to see whether any such criticism has crossed the limits as aforesaid and if it has, then resist every temptation to make it public - In every case, it would be no answer to plead that publication, publisher, editor or other concerned did not know or it was done in haste - Large number of people believe as correct which appears in media, print or electronic - Media can, in the public interest, resort to reasonable criticism of a judicial act or the judgment of a court for public good or report any such statements; it should refrain from casting scurrilous aspersions on, or impute improper motives or personal bias to the Judge - Nor should they scandalize the court or the judiciary as a whole, or make personal allegations of lack of ability or integrity against a Judge. 
[Paras 31, 32 and 37] 
C. Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Sections 2(c), 11 and 12 - Contempt of Court - Mens rea - Mens rea as such, is not an indispensable ingredient of the offence of contempt, the courts are loath to punish a contemnor, if the act or omission complained of, was not willful - Power and reach of the media, both print as well as electronic is tremendous - It has to be exercised in the interest of the public good. 
[Paras 25 and 36] 
D. Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Sections 2(c), 11 and 12 - Judgments of Court - Judgments are open to criticism - No criticism of a judgment, however vigorous, can amount to contempt of Court, provided it is kept within the limits of reasonable courtesy and good faith - Fair and reasonable criticism of a judgment which is a public document or which is a public act of a Judge concerned with administration of justice would not constitute contempt - Such a criticism may fairly assert that the judgment is incorrect or an error has been committed both with regard to law or established facts. 
[Paras 42 and 43] 
E. Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Sections 2(c), 11 and 12 - Contempt of Court - A question whether there is contempt of court or not is a serious one - The court is both the accuser as well as the Judge of the accusation - The court has to act with great circumspection - It is only when a clear case of contemptuous conduct not explainable otherwise, arises that the contemnor must be punished - Broad test to determine whether there is contempt of court or not, is to see whether the act complained of was calculated to obstruct or had an intrinsic tendency to interfere with the course of justice and the due administration of law - The standard of proof required for establishing a charge of 'criminal contempt' is the same as in any other criminal proceeding - Courts are loath to punish a contemnor, if the act or omission complained of, was not willful. 
[Paras 24 and 25] 
F. Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Sections 2(c), 11 and 12 - Contempt of Court - Exercise of power by Court under Contempt of Courts Act - When the court exercises this power, it does not do so to vindicate the dignity and honour of the individual Judge who is personally attacked or scandalised, but to uphold the majesty of the law and of the administration of justice - Law summed up (AIR 1971 SC 221) :- 

    (1) The summary jurisdiction by way of contempt must be exercised with great care and caution and only when its exercise is necessary for the proper administration of law and justice. (2) It is open to anyone to express fair, reasonable and legitimate criticism of any act or conduct of a Judge in his judicial capacity or even to make a proper and fair comment on any decision given by him because "justice is not a cloistered virtue and she must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and respectful, even though outspoken, comments of ordinary men". (3) A distinction must be made between a mere libel of defamation of a Judge and what amounts to a contempt of the court - The test in each case would be whether the impugned publication is a mere defamatory attack on the Judge or whether it is calculated to interfere with the due course of justice or the proper administration of law by his court - It is only in the latter case that it will be punishable as contempt - Alternatively the test will be whether the wrong is done to the Judge personally or it is done to the public - The publication of a disparaging statement will be an injury to the public if it tends to create an apprehension in the minds of the people regarding the integrity, ability or fairness of the Judge or to deter actual and prospective litigants from placing complete reliance upon the court's administration of justice or if it is likely to cause embarrassment in the mind of the Judge himself in the discharge of his judicial duties. [Paras 11 to 15]

Cases referred :

Andre Paul Terence Ambard v. Attorney-General [AIR 1936 PC 141].
Aswini Kumar Ghose v. Arabinda Bose [AIR 1953 SC 75].
Brahma Prakash Sharma & Ors. v. State of U.P. [AIR 1954 SC 10].
Perspective Publications Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Maharashtra [AIR 1971 SC 221].
Shri C.K. Daphtary v. Shri O.P. Gupta [(1971)1 SCC 626].
R.C. Cooper v. Union of India [(1970)2 SCC 298].
In Re. S. Mulgaokar, [(1978)3 SCC 339].
P.N. Duda v. P. Shiv Shanker [(1988)3 SCC 167].
In Re. Roshan Lal Ahuja [1993 Supp.(4) SCC 446].
In Re. Ajay Kumar Pandey, 1998(4) ER 501 (SC) : [(1996)6 SCC 510].
Dr. D.C. Saxena v. Hon'ble Chief Justice of India [(1996)5 SCC 216].
J.R. Parashar, Advocate v. Prasant Bhushan, Advocate, 2001(4) RCR(Crl.) 171 (SC) : [(2001)6 SCC 735].
Re, Arundhati Roy, 2002(2) ER 70 (SC) : [(2002)3 SCC 343].
S. Abdul Karim v. M.K. Prakash [(1976)1 SCC 975].
M.R. Parashar v. Dr. Farooq Abdullah [(1984)2 SCC 343].
Mrityunjoy Das v. Sayed Hasibur Rahaman, 2001(2) RCR(Crl.) 260 (SC) : [(2001)3 SCC 739].
Bramblevale Ltd. Re [(1969)3 All ER 1062 (CA)].
Chhotu Ram v. Urvashi Gulati, 2002(1) RCR(Crl.) 179 (SC) : [(2001)7 SCC 530].
Anil Ratan Sarkar v Hirak Ghosh, 2002(4) RCR(Crl.) 517 (SC) : [(2002)4 SCC 21].
Radha Mohan Lal v. Rajasthan High Court (Jaipur Bench), 2003(2) RCR(Crl.) 46 (SC) : [(2003)3 SCC 427].
Bijay Kumar Mahanty v. Jadu alias Ram Chandra Sahoo, 2003(1) RCR(Crl.) 229 (SC) : [AIR 2003 SC 657].
Re Hari Jaisingh, 1996(3) ER 665 (SC) : [(1996)6 SCC 466].
Prem Surana v. Additional Munsif & Judicial Magistrate, 2002(4) RCR(Crl.) 272 (SC) : [(2002)6 SCC 722].
M.C. Mehta v. Union of India In Matter of : M/s. Ashok Chhabra & Co. [(2003)5 SCC 376].
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1 comment:

  1. Adv. S. K. Jain
    4:41 PM (12 hours ago)
    to me
    Thanks, sir.
    I appreciate your awareness about our judicial system and its activities.
    Adv. S.K. Jain.