01 October 1954
Supreme Court








DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/10/1954


CITATION:  1954 AIR  743            1955 SCR  677  CITATOR INFO :  RF         1971 SC 221  (16)  RF         1992 SC 904  (37)

ACT: S.   R.  DAS, VIVIAN BOSE and GHULAM HASAN JJ.]  Contempt of Court-Court hearing a case-Leaflet  distributed by  a party in Court premises during  hearing-Language  used Affecting   the  Judges-Time  and  place  of   distribution- Hindering or obstructing due administration of justice.

HEADNOTE:      The  petitioner  was an applicant in one  of  the  writ petitions  which  had  been  filed  in  the  Supreme   Court challenging the validity of U. P. Road Transport Act,  1951. During  the hearing of the writ petitions a leaflet  printed in   the  Hindi  language  and  intituled   "Our   Transport Department"  purporting to be written by the petitioner  was distributed in the Court premises.  The leaflet contained  a graphic account of the harassment and indignity said to have been  meted out to the writer by the State officers and  the then  State  Minister of Transport in  connection  with  the cancellation  and  eventual restoration of  his  license  in respect of a passenger bus. 87 678      The  second  paragraph  at  page  15  of  that  leaflet contains  a  passage of which the following is  the  English translation :     "  The  public has full and firm faith  in  the  Supreme Court,  but  sources  that  are in the  know  say  that  the Government   acts   with,  partiality  in  the   matter   of appointment   of  those  Hon’ble  Judges   as   Ambassadors, Governors,  High  Commissioners, etc.,  who  give  judgments against  Government  but  this  has  so  far  not  made  any difference  in  the  firmness and  justice  of  the  Hon’ble Judges.  "     Held,  (1) that the offending passage and the  time  and place  of its distribution tended to hinder or obstruct  the due administration of justice and was a contempt of Court.



   (2)It  was  not fair comment on the proceedings  but  an attempt to prejudice the Court against the State and to stir up  public  feeling on the very question  then  pending  for decision.    The   manner  in  which   the   leaflets   were distributed,  the  language used in them and the  timing  of their publication could only have had one object, namely, to try and influence the Judges in favour of the petitioner and the  others who were in the same position as himself.   This again was clear contempt of the Supreme Court.     (3)It  is not necessary that there should in fact be  an actual  interference  with the course of  administration  of justice  but  it is enough if the offending  publication  is likely  or  if  it tends in any way to  interfere  with  the proper  administration  of law.  Such insinuations  as  were implicit  in the passage in question were derogatory to  the dignity  of the Court and were calculated to  undermine  the confidence of the people in the integrity of the Judges.      Brahma Prakash Sharma and Others v. The State of  Uttar Pradesh ([1953] S.C.R. 1 169) referred to.

JUDGMENT:    ORIGINAL  JURISDICTION: In the matter of the Contempt  of Court  proceedings relating to the printing, publishing  and circulation  of a pamphlet over the name of Hira  Lal  Dixit (General-Secretary, Praja Socialist Party, Mainpur) entitled "HAMARA  VAHAN VIBRAG" arising out of (Civil)  Petition  No. 379 of 1953. (Hira Lal Dixit v. The State of Uttar Pradesh).    The  Attorney-General for India (P.  A. Mehta, with  him) to assist the Court.     S.C. Issacs (R.  Patnaik and S. S. Shukla, with him) for respondent No. I (Hira Lal Dixit).    Mohan  Lal Saxena and S. S. Shukla for respondent  No.  2 (Kishore Dutt Paliwal).    S.S. Shukla for respondent No. 3 (Printer, Sainik Press).                             679 1954.  October 1. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by     DAS  J.-This Rule was issued by this Court on  the  16th September, 1954, calling upon the respondents to appear  and show  cause  why they should not be  proceeded  against  for contempt of this Court.    It  is  desirable  to  mention at  the  outset  the  cir- cumstances  in which it became necessary for this  Court  to issue this Rule.  On the 14th September, 1954, there were on that  day’s  cause list for hearing and final  disposal  two appeals, being ’Appeal No. 182 of 1954 (Saghir Ahmad v.  The State  of  Uttar Pradesh and Others) and Appeal No.  183  of 1954  (Mirza  Hasan Agha v. The State of Uttar  Pradesh  and Others).   A large number of writ petitions, 224 in  number, under  article  32  of the  Constitution  raising  the  same questions  were also on the cause list for that  day.   Both the  appellants  and  all the petitioners  were  engaged  in carrying  on businesses as carriers of passengers and  goods by motor buses or lorries on different routes under licenses issued by the State of Uttar Pradesh and in cases where  the route   passed   into  or  through  the  State   of   Delhi, countersigned  by  that State.  Some of  these  persons  had originally  been granted permanent permits by  the  Regional Transport   Authority.    Pursuant   to   the   policy    of nationalisation  of  road transport business  the  State  of Uttar Pradesh made declarations under section 3 of the Uttar Pradesh  State Road Transport Act, 1950, to the effect  that road transport services on certain routes should be run  and operated by the State Government in the manner mentioned  in



the  relevant declarations and it also published schemes  of road  transport  services under section 4 of that  Act.   In furtherance  of  its object the State  Government  began  to serve  notices  on  the licensees to stop  plying  buses  on specified  routes.  The appellant thereupon applied  to  the Allahabad  High Court for a writ of mandamus  directing  the State  Government and its Minister of Transport to  withdraw the  declaration made under section 3 of the  Uttar  Pradesh Road  Transport  Act, 1950, in respect of  their  respective routes and directing them and their officers to refrain from proceeding further under sections 4 and 680 5  of  that Act and not to interfere with the  operation  of their  respective  stage carriages and for  other  ancillary reliefs.   By an order made on the 17th November, 1953,  the Allahabad High Court dismissed those, applications.  The two petitioners thereupon filed these two appeals in this  Court after having obtained a certificate from the Allahabad  High Court  under  article  132(1)  of  the  Constitution.    The appellants obtained orders for stay of proceedings until the determination of their appeals.  In view of the decision  of the Allahabad High Court many other persons holding licenses for plying motor stage carriages or contract carriages  came direct to this Court with applications under article 32  for appropriate  writs  and obtained interim stay.   As  already stated, the two appeals and all those numerous  applications were posted on the cause list for the 14th September,  1954, for final disposal.  The respondent, Hira Lal Dixit, was the petitioner  in  one  of those writ  applications.   The  two appeals  were  called on for hearing on that  day  and  were part-heard.  The hearing continued for the whole of the 15th and  16th  September, 1954, and was concluded  on  the  17th September,  1954, when the Court took time  for  considering its  decision.   The  Court  has  not  ’yet  delivered   its judgment.   A  large  number  of  persons,  presumably   the petitioners  in the writ petitions or  otherwise  interested therein,  attended  the Court on all those  dates,  for  the result  of the decision of the appeals would  also  conclude the writ petitions.  It appears that on the 15th  September, 1954,   a  leaflet  printed  in  the  Hindi   language   and characters, consisting of 18 pages, intituled "Hamara  Vahan Vibhag" meaning "Our Transport Department", purporting to be written  by the respondent Hira Lal Dixit and  containing  a foreword  purporting  to  be written  by  Sri  Krishna  Dutt Paliwal  and a block photograph of the respondent, Hira  Lal Dixit,  on  the  front page was  distributed  in  the  Court premises.   The leaflet contained a graphic account  of  the harassment and indignity said to have been meted out to  the writer by the State officers and the then State Minister  of Transport  in connection with the cancellation and  eventual restoration of his license 681 in respect of a passenger bus.  The second paragraph on page 15  of  that  leaflet  contained  a  passage  of  which  the following is an English translation prepared by an  advocate of this Court duly authorised in that behalf" The public has full  and firm faith in the Supreme Court, but sources  that are in the know say that the Government acts with partiality in  the  matter of appointment of those  Hon’ble  Judges  as Ambassadors,  Governors, High Commissioners, etc., who  give judgments  against Government but this has so far  not  made any  difference in the firmness and justice of  the  Hon’ble Judges.  "    The  leaflet  containing the  above  offending  paragraph having  been  brought to its notice the Court  on  the  16th



September, 1954, issued the present rule and sent a copy  of the  rule  to  the  Attorney-General  for  India.  All   the respondents   have  been  duly  served.   They  have   filed affidavits  and have appeared before us by their  respective advocates.   The respondent, Sri Krishna Dutt  Paliwal,  the writer  of the foreword, who was present in Court, made  the following  statement to the Court through his advocate,  Sri Mohan Lal Saksena:-    "  When  I wrote the foreword I did not  go  through  the whole  manuscript.  I was only told that it dealt  with  the working of the Transport Control.  Now that my attention has been  drawn  to the passage objected to I am  sorry  that  I wrote  a foreword to the pamphlet and I offer my apology  to the Court.  I never knew that the pamphlet was intended  for circulation and I was not a party to its circulation.  "     One., Devendra Sharma, the General Manager of the Sainik Press, Agra, where the offending leaflet was printed,  filed an affidavit on behalf of the respondent Press stating  that at the time when the leaflet had been given to the Press for being  printed he did not notice the paragraph in  question, that his attention was drawn to it only after the service of the  present  Rule,  that he was sorry  that  it,  had  been printed  in  the Press and that he never had  the  slightest intention of committing any contempt of this Court.  In  his affidavit as well as through his advocate, Sri S. Sukla, the 682 respondent  Press  represented by Devendra  Sharma  who  was present  in  Court tendered an unqualified  apology  to  the Court.   In  view  of the statements made in  Court  by  the advocates of these two respondents this Court accepts  their apology and discharges the rule as against them and  nothing further need be said about them.     Learned  counsel appearing for the respondent, Hira  Lal Dixit,  strongly urged that the passage complained of  could not  possibly  be  capable  of  any  derogatory  meaning  or implication  and  could not be regarded  as  constituting  a contempt  of  Court.  There are innumerable  ways  by  which attempts can be made to hinder or obstruct the due course of administration  of  justice  in Courts.  One  type  of  such interference  is to be found in cases where there is an  act or  publication  which  scandalises  the  Court  itself.   A situation  of that type was considered by this Court in  the case  of  Brahma Prakash Sharma and Others v. The  State  of Uttar  Pradesh(1),  and the principles governing a  case  of that  type were discussed-and laid down in the  judgment  of the  Court.   The  present case does not  fall  within  that category,  for  here there has been no scandalising  of  the Court  itself.  The question here is whether  the  offending passage  is  of such character and import or  made  in  such circumstances  as  would  tend  to  hinder  or  obstruct  or interfere  with the due course of administration of  justice by  the Court.  To begin with, the leaflet was written by  a person  who  was himself the petitioner in one of  the  writ petitions  which  were on the cause list for  hearing.   The actual   timing  of  the  publication  of  the  leaflet   is significant.   It was circulated at a time when  the  appeal and  the  writ petitions including that of  the  respondent, Hira  Lal Dixit, himself were posted on the cause  list  and the  appeals, on the decision of which depended the fate  of those  numerous petitions, were being actually  heard.   The place of publication was also not without significance.   It was  distributed  in the Court premises where a  very  large number  of  licensees  had  fore  gathered.   The  fact   of distribution of the leaflet in the Court premises was denied in the affidavit of this respondent but when a



(1)  [1953] S.C.R. 1169.                             683 suggestion was made that evidence be recorded on this  point the  learned counsel appearing for him did not press for  it and  accepted  the  position that the leaflet  was  in  fact distributed  in the Court premises.  In  the  circumstances, the  only other question that remains is as to what was  the meaning and purpose of the offending passage in the leaflet.    Learned  counsel  for  the respondent,  Hira  Lal  Dixit, maintained  that  the  passage  in  question  was  perfectly innocuous  and only expressed a laudatory sentiment  towards the Court and that such flattery could not possibly have the slightest  effect on the minds of the Judges of this  august tribunal.  We do not think flattery was the sole or even the main  object  with which this passage was  written  or  with which  it was published at the time when the hearing of  the appeals  was  in  progress.   It  no  doubt  begins  with  a declaration  of  public  faith in this  Court  but  this  is immediately  followed  by  other words  connected  with  the earlier  words  by the significant  conjunction  "but."  The words that follow are to the effect that sources that are in the know say that the Government acts with partiality in the matter  of  appointment  of  those  Judges  as  Ambassadors, Governors,  High  Commissioners, etc.,  who  give  judgments against the Government.  The plain meaning of these words is that the Judges who decide against the Government do not get these high appointments.  The necessary implication of these words  is  that  the  Judges who decide  in  favour  of  the Government  are  rewarded  by  the  Government  with   these appointments.   The  attitude  of  the  Government  is  thus depicted  surely with a purpose and that purpose cannot  but be  to raise in the minds of the reader a feeling  that  the Government, by holding out high hopes of future  employment, encourages the Judges to give decisions in its favour.  This insinuation  is  made  manifest by the  words  that  follow, namely,  "this  has so far not made any  difference  in  the firmness and justice of the Hon’ble Judges." The linking  up of  these words with the preceding words by the  conjunction "but"  brings  into relief the real  significance  and  true meaning of the earlier words.  The passage read as a 684 whole clearly amounts to this: "Government disfavours Judges who give decisions against it but favours those Judges  with high  appointments who decide in its favour:  that  although this  is  calculated to tempt Judges to  give  judgments  in favour  of  the  Government  it has  so  far  not  made  any difference  in the firmness and justice of the Judges."  The words  "so  far"  are significant.  What, we  ask,  was  the purpose  of writing this passage and what was the object  of the  distribution of the leaflet in the Court premises at  a time when the Court was in the midst of hearing the  appeals ?  Surely,  there  was hidden in  the  offending  passage  a warning that although the Judges have "so far" remained firm and  resisted the temptation of deciding cases in favour  of Government  in  expectation of  getting  high  appointments, nevertheless, if they decide in favour of the Government  on this  occasion knowledgeable people will know that they  had succumbed to the temptation and had given judgment in favour of  the  Government in expectation of future reward  in  the shape  of  high appointments of the kind  mentioned  in  the passage.    The  object  of  writing  this   paragraph   and particularly  of publishing it at the time it  was  actually done was quite clearly to affect the minds of the Judges and to deflect them from the strict performance of their duties. The  offending  passage  and  the  time  and  place  of  its



publication  certainly tended to hinder or obstruct the  due administration of justice and is a contempt of Court.      These  is  another aspect of the matter.  Even  if  the passage  about the Judges were not in the leaflet  the  rest would still amount to a serious contempt of Court.  There is in’ it a strong denunciation of the State of Uttar  Pradesh, a party to the appeal and the petitions’ regarding the  very matters then under the consideration of this Court.  It  was not  fair  comment  on the proceedings  but  an  attempt  to prejudice the Court against the State and to stir up  public feeling on the very question then pending for decision.  The manner in which the leaflets were distributed, the  language used in them and the timing of their publication could  only have had one object, namely, to try and influence 685 the  Judges in favour of the petitioner and the  others  who were in the same position as himself.  This again is a clear contempt of this Court.    It  is  well established, as was said by  this  Court  in Brahma   Prakash  Sharma and Others v. The  State  of  Uttar Pradesh (supra), that it is not necessary that there  should in  fact  be  an  actual interference  with  the  course  of administration  of  justice  but that it is  enough  if  the offending publication is likely or if it tends in any way to interfere  with  the  proper administration  of  law.   Such insinuations as are implicit in the passage in question  are derogatory to the dignity of the Court and are calculated to undermine  the confidence of the people in the integrity  of the Judges.  Whether the passage is read as fulsome flattery of  the  Judges of this Court or is read as  containing  the insinuations  mentioned  above or the rest  of  the  leaflet which contains an attack on a party to the pending  proceed- ings  is taken separately it is equally contemptuous of  the Court  in  that the object of writing it and  the  time  and place  of  its  publication were,  or  were  calculated,  to deflect the Court from performing its strict duty, either by flattery  or  by a veiled threat or warning or  by  creating prejudice in its mind against the State.  We are, therefore, clearly of opinion and we hold that the respondent, Hira Lal Dixit, by writing the leaflet and in particular the  passage in  question and by publishing it at the time and  place  he did  has  committed a gross contempt of this Court  and  the qualified apology contained in his affidavit and repeated by him through his counsel cannot be taken as sufficient amends for his misconduct.     It should no doubt be constantly borne in mind that  the summary   jurisdiction  exercised  by  superior  Courts   in punishing contempt of their authority exists for the purpose of  preventing interference with the course of  justice  and for  maintaining the authority of law as is administered  in the  Court  and  thereby  affording  protection  to  public, interest  in  the purity of the administration  of  justice. This  is  certainly  an extraordinary power  which  must  be sparingly  exercised but where the public  interest  demands it, the Court will  88 686 not  shrink from exercising it and imposing punishment  even by  way of imprisonment, in cases where a mere fine may  not be adequate.     After   anxious  consideration  we  have  come  to   the conclusion that in all the circumstances of this case it  is a fit case where the power of the Court should be  exercised and  that  it  is  necessary to  impose  the  punishment  of imprisonment.   People  must  know  that  they  cannot  with



impunity hinder or obstruct or attempt to hinder or obstruct the due course of administration of justice.  We, therefore, find  respondent,  Hira  Lal Dixit, guilty  of  contempt  of Court, make the Rule absolute as against him and direct that he  be  arrested and committed to civil  prison  to  undergo simple  imprisonment for a fortnight.  He must also pay  the costs, if any, incurred by the Union of India.                          Order accordingly.