Bijoyananda Patnaik Vs. Balakrushna : Contempt of Court and the judiciary.

After reading this judgement, the readers will learn about the lenient approach taken by the Orissa High Court towards its contempt in line with an earlier decision. The main aim of provisions relating to contempt of courts is to preserve the dignity and image of the judiciary.
TITLE Bijoyananda Patnaik Vs. Balakrushna 
CITATION AIR 1953 Ori 249
COURT High Court of Orissa
JUDGES/CORAM Justice Panigrahi, Justice Mohapatra
DATE OF JUDGEMENT 26.03.1953

INTRODUCTION

Anything that abridges or debilitates legal procedure and hampers the organization of law ultimately meddles with the proper way of equity. This essentially comprises disdain of court. According to Oswald disdain is established by any lead that will in general bring the specialist and organization of law into insolence or ignore or to meddle with or partiality with parties or their observers amid prosecution. Halsbury characterizes hatred as comprising of words expressed or composed which block or will in general deter the organization of equity. Dark Odgers articulates that it is disdain of court to distribute words which will in general bring the organization of justice into scorn. He says disdain is to prefer the reasonable preliminary of any reason or matter which is the subject of civil or criminal continuing or in at any rate to block the reason for Justice.

FACTS

The facts of the case are as follows: These proceedings in contempt had been initiated at the instance of the Petitioner, Sri Bijoyananda Patnaik. He was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Messrs, Eastern Mercantile Corporation Ltd. 

Opposite Party 1 was the Editor of an Oriya newspaper called ‘Matrubhumi’.  Opposite party 2 was its printer and publisher. On 14.06.1952 Inspector of the Special Police Establishment, Government of India-Delhi searched the business premises of the Petitioner under a warrant issued by the Additional District Magistrate, Cuttack. The search was done for the recovery of certain documents and letters exchanged between the Petitioner and some overseas suppliers, in respect of a license issued by the Government of India for the import of bicycles intended for internal consumption within Orissa State. 

On 21.06.1952 the Petitioner moved the Orissa High Court praying for the issue of a rule on the Additional District Magistrate and the Inspector, Special Police Establishment. He prayed to show cause why the search should not be declared illegal. He also prayed for the setting aside of the order of the Additional District Magistrate that refused him the grant of copies of the warrant. On 27.10.1952 the Court granted one of the prayers of the applicant. It directed that he should be granted copies of certain documents which were, in the possession of the Additional District Magistrate. However, the Bench of the Court rejected the other prayer of the Petitioner, for a declaration that the search was illegal, on 02.12.1952.

It was alleged that the opposite parties published certain articles in the daily and weekly issues of the Matrubhumi while proceedings were pending in this Court, vilifying the Petitioner. These publications, it was contended, constituted gross contempt of Court. Altogether, there were four articles published in the Matrubhumi (two in the daily issues dated 17.06.1952 and 13.08.1952 and two in the weekly issues dated 21.07.1952 and 01.09.1952). The present petition was presented in Court on 24.10.1952. The High Court then issued a rule nisi to show cause why the opposite parties should not be committed for contempt. These proceedings, therefore, appeared to be an off-shoot of original judicial Case which had been filed by the Petitioner as the impugned articles were published when the initiation of these proceedings was either imminent or pending in the Court.

ISSUES

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The main issue in the case was: Whether or not the High Court had to take any action against the opposite parties by way of committal or fine.

SUMMARY OF COURT DECISION AND JUDGEMENT

The High Court was satisfied that the opposite parties were guilty of contempt. The opposite parties made hostile animadversions on a litigant at a time when his cause was pending. However the mischief in the instant case so far as it affected the proceedings in this Court, had been trifling. Thus, the Court did not deem it to be necessary to invoke the extraordinary powers of this Court. It did not sentence the opposite parties with severe punishment.

The Court went on to observe that the writings would have gone unnoticed but for the fact that the Petitioner brought them up before the Court. The Court thus held the Opposite Parties “technically guilty of contempt”. It further expressed the earnest hope that the public press would not indulge in writings of that character. Additionally, it warned newspapermen that it might become the duty of this Court to act in a more severe manner than it will in the present case. The Opposite parties were made to pay the fee of the petitioner.

ANALYSIS

An interesting point in the judgement of the present case was that the Court adopted the course taken by Jessel, M. B. in In re: Clements  in which he made the following observations:

“Now that I apply and adopt as the principle which ought to regulate these applications –that there should be no such application made unless the thing done is of such a nature as to require the arbitrary and summary interference of the Court, in order to enable justice to be duly and properly administered, without any interruption or interference, that is what we have to consider and, in my opinion, although I say there is here that which is technically a contempt — and may be such a contempt as to be of a serious nature — I cannot think that there is any such interference or any such fear of interference with the due conduct of this action, or any such prejudice to the defendant who is applying here, as to Justify the Court in interfering by this summary and arbitrary process”.

The Court, in the present case, was of the view that every word of this passage applied to the case. The judges expressed extreme displeasure at the conduct of the Opposite parties. They warn the parties that a repetition of such conduct in future would be severely dealt.

The law identifying with disdain of subordinate Courts is to be found in the Contempt of Courts Act as altered by Act 12 of 1937. Segment 2 of that Act says that the High Courts will have, and practice a similar purview, power, and specialist in regard of contempt of Courts subordinate to them as they have and practice in regard of scorn of themselves. There are different arrangements identifying with scorn of Court carried out in the view or nearness of common, criminal, or income Courts, and they are to be found in the Civil Procedure Code, and the Indian Penal Code. In any case, so far as hatred of the High Court is concerned, Article 215 makes an express arrangement for rebuffing disdain of itself. That Article says: “Every High Court will be a Court of record and will have every one of the forces of such Court, including the ability to rebuff for scorn of itself.” Therefore, the present issue stands right in the right of the concerned law.

CONCLUSION

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There can be full certainty that the reason for disdain purview is to maintain the grandness and poise of law courts. Their picture in the brains of general society is cannot be trimmed down.  The use of cheeky words or works pave way for a regular man to lose his regard for the judge acting in the release of his legal obligations. For such an act, the guilty party should be rebuffed. Fundamentally, law of disdain is the defender of the seat of equity.  More than an individual, it affects the judge. 

                                                                                                            –END OF CASE COMMENT–