22 November 1996
Supreme Court







DATE OF JUDGMENT:       22/11/1996




JUDGMENT:                       J U D G M E N T S.C. AGRAWAL. J.:      These contempt  proceedings have been initiated against Balwan Singh (hereinafter referred to as "the Contemner") on the basis of notice dated August 3, 1996 issued in pursuance of the  direction contained in the order dated July 12, 1996 passed by  the Court  in Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 296 of 1993. The facts, briefly stated, are as follows.      Jugti Ram  and Bhura  Ram are  brothers. They  were 300 bhigas land  in their  joint Khata  in  village  Farmana  in District Rohtak  in the  State of Haryana. 150 bhigas of the said land  belonged  to  Jugti  Ram.  Jugti  Ram  has  eight daughters, three  from his  first wife  Smt. Sarti  and five daughters from his second wife, Smt. Birmati, the petitioner in the  aforementioned Writ  Petition. The  Contemner is the son of  Bhura Ram  and was  the Sarpanch of village Farmana. The Writ  Petition was  filed by  Smt. Birmati in this Court with the  allegation that  one Shamsher  Singh had kidnapped her two  minor daughters,  Geeta and  Seema, and was keeping them in  illegal confinement.  On the basis of orders passed by this  Court the  said two  daughters of Smt. Birmati were recovered by  the police.  In the writ petition Smt. Birmati was being  supported by  Mahila Dakshita  Samiti (for  short "the Samiti"),  a voluntary organisation. An application for directions (Cr.  M.P. No. 240 of 1994) was filed in the Writ Petition wherein  it was  stated that  Mrs. Vinay  Bhardwaj, Secretary of  the Samiti,  had been threatened by Shri Anand Singh Dangi  and  the  Contemner  and  it  was  prayed  that appropriate action  be taken  against them for their blatant attempts to  interfere with  the administration  of justice. The said  application was  accompanied by  the affidavit  of Smt. Bhardwaj  dated January  15, 1994 wherein it was stated that on  November 30,  1993 Shri Anand Singh Dangi requested her to  meet him at Haryana Bhavan at New Delhi and that she met him  there and  that at that time the Contemner was also present and  had demanded  that Smt.  Birmati and  her three daughters, Geets,  Rekha and Seema, be handed over to him to which Smt.  Bhardwaj refused.  In the  said  affidavit  Smt. Bhardwaj also  stated that there was another meeting between her and  Shri Anand Singh Dangi and the Contemner on January



7, 1994  at the  Samiti office  at 19,  Fire  Brigade  Lane, Cannaught Place,  New Delhi  and in  the said  meeting  Shri Anand Singh  Dangi suggested  that the  case pending in this Court be withdrawn and the three girls be handed over to the Contemner who  would be their guardian and Smt. Bhardwaj was also threatened  by Shri  Anand Sing  Dangi who  stated that this Court  cannot pass  any order  as regards  the land and even if it does they shall ensure that it is not implemented and that  no one  can sell the land nor cultivate it without his approval.  Notices were issued to Shri Anand Singh Dangi and the  Contemner and  in  response  to  the  said  notices counter affidavits  were filed  by Shri Anand Singh Dangi as well as  the Contemner.  In their  counter  affidavits  they admitted the  two meetings  with  Smt.  Vinay  Bhardwaj  but denied any  high handed  acts of  intimidation as alleged by her. In  the circumstances  this Court, by order dated April 26,   1994,   directed   Shri   Dharmendra   Kumar,   Deputy Commissioner of  Police  of  the  area  where  the  Samiti’s premises are  situate, to  conduct an investigation into the matter and  submit  a  Report  as  to  the  correctness  and probabilities of  the situation.  the Contemner  as well  as Shri Anand  Singh Dangi  and other persons whose involvement were alleged by Smt. Bhardwaj were directed to appear before Shri  Dharmendra   Kumar  (who   had   been   appointed   as Commissioner  of  the  Court)  and  to  assist  him  in  the investigation.  In   pursuance  of   the  said   order  Shri Dharmendra Kumar,  after recording  the statements  of  Smt. Bhardwaj and  the witnesses  produced by  her as well as the statements of  Shri Anand  Singh Dangi,  the  Contemner  and their witnesses,  has submitted  his report  dated  May  24, 1994. A  copy of the said report was forwarded to Shri Anand Singh Dangi  as well  as the  Contemner. The Contemner filed his affidavit  dated  November  28,  1994  setting  out  his submissions on  the said report. On May 12, 1996, the Court, after satisfying  prima facie  that a  case is  made out for issuing a  notice to  the  Contemner  for  having  committed criminal  contempt   by  interfering  with  the  proceedings pending before this Court, directed that notice be issued to the Contemner  requiring him  to show  cause why  he be  not punished for  contempt of  this Court.  In pursuance  of the said direction  notice has  been issued to the Contemner and contempt proceedings have been initiated. In response to the said notice  the contemner  has filed  his  affidavit  dated September 20, 1996.      We have  heard Shri  Hardev Singh,  the learned  senior counsel, for the Contemner.      In his  report dated May 24, 1994 Shri Dharmendra Kumar has found that no threats were extended during first meeting at Haryana  Bhavan on  November 30,  1993. Referring  to the second meeting  held on January 7, 1994 at the office of the Samiti, Shri  Dharmendra Kumar  has  said  that  during  the course of  conversation with  Smt. Bhardwaj,  the  Contemner angrily told  them that  the Samiti  wants to  sell off  the girls’ land  and that the villagers would not let them do it and that  this matter  related to  land and  that the Samiti should remove  itself and  that there  would be bloodshed if attempts were  made to  sell it.  Shri Dharmendra  Kumar has also stated  that from  the statements  recorded by  him  it appears that  the Contemner  made desperate  attempt to take the girls  back to the village and in the process used harsh words which  were construed  as a threat by the Samiti. Shri Dharmendra Kumar has mentioned that the Contemner has always had an  interest in  Jugti Ram’s  land which could have been his, had  Jugti Ram not married again and simply adopted him as his  son and since the land falling in the share of Jugti



Ram and  his daughters  was still  in joint  Khata and  with Jugti Ram  in his control Birmati and the rest of the family out of  the way, the Contemner could have had direct control over the  land. The possibilities of sale of the land by the girls and Smt. Birmati came as a rude shock to the Contemner and that  he was trying to hide his true motive by posing as a benefactor  of the  girls and  trying to  show that he had been wanting  to take  the girls back at the behest of their father Jugti  Ram which  was not  true because Jugti Ram was not even  present in  the village when the Contemner and his fellow villagers came again to Delhi for the second meeting. According to  Shri Dharmendra Kumar, the baser motive of the Contemner in  taking the  girls  back  and  in  the  process threatening the Samiti cannot be denied.      Shri Hardev  Singh has  submitted that in the affidavit dated January  15, 1994  Smt. Bhardwaj  has only referred to threats being  extended by  Shri Anand  Singh Dangi  and  no reference is  made to  any  threat  being  extended  by  the Contemner  and,  therefore,  the  inference  drawn  by  Shri Dharmendra Kumar in his report that it was the Contemner who had uttered  the threatening words cannot be accepted. We do not find any merit in this contention. Shri Dharmendra Kumar has pointed  out that  Smt. Rachna  Saxena, Counselor in the Samiti, has recorded the important pieces of conversation in Exhibit-I which  is a  reliable record of the proceedings of the second  meeting held  on January  7,  1994  at  Samiti’s office and  that the said record shows a continuous dialogue between  Smt.  Bhardwaj  and  the  Contemner  and  that  the statement  of  Smt.  Bhardwaj  indicates  that  it  was  the Contemner and not Shri Anand singh Dangi who has uttered the words "she  (Smt. Bhardwaj) was wanting to sell off the land which was joint property and the villagers would not let her do it  and any  attempt to  touch the  land in Farmana or an effort to  sell  it  off  would  lead  to  bloodshed".  Smt. Bhardwaj has  also stated  that she  had tried to pacify the enraged Sarpanch  (Contemner). Shri Dharmendra Kumar, in our opinion,  has  rightly  came  to  the  conclusion  that  the aforesaid statement was made by the Contemner.      The submission of Shri Hardev Singh that on the date of the  second   meeting  the   Contemner  was   not  aware  of proceedings of  the Writ  Petition in  this Court  cannot be accepted in  view of the fact that the letter dated November 5,  1993  sent  by  the  Samiti  to  the  Contemner  clearly mentioned that  the matter was pending in this Court and the receipt of  the said  letter had  not been  disputed by  the Contemner.      Shri Hardev  Singh has  lastly submitted that since the land has  been sold  now, the  matter may  be closed and the apology tendered by the Contemner be accepted.      We  have  given  due  consideration  to  the  aforesaid submission of  Shri Hardev Singh. It is established from the record that  by uttering the threatening words complained of the Contemner,  who happened  to be  the Sarpanch of village Farmana, tried to use his influence as Sarpanch to brow beat the members  of the  Samiti as well as the petitioner in the Writ Petition  to desist  from  prosecuting  the  said  Writ Petition and  seeking direction  in the  said writ  petition regarding sale of the land of Jugti Ram and his daughters in village  Farmana.  He  thereby  sought  to  interfere  in  a proceeding pending  before this  Court. The  said conduct of the contemner constitutes criminal contempt of Court. In the circumstances, we  are of the view that the apology tendered by the Contemner cannot be accepted. We, therefore, hold the Contemner guilty  of having  committed criminal  contempt of Court. He  is sentenced  to pay  a fine  of Rs. 1000/- which



amount shall  be deposited  by him  in this  Court within  a period of  one month. In case the Contemner fails to deposit the amount  of fine  within the  aforesaid period,  he shall undergo simple imprisonment for a period of fifteen days.