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“15. Cognizance of criminal contempt in other cases. - (1) In the case of a criminal contempt, other than a contempt referred to in section 14, the Supreme Court or the High Court may take action on its own motion or on a motion made by— (a) the Advocate-General, or (b) any other person, with the consent in writing to the Advocate-General, or (c) in relation to the High Court for the Union territory of Delhi, such Law Officer as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf, or any other person, with the consent in writing of such Law Officer. (2) In the case of any criminal contempt of a subordinate court, the High Court may take action on a reference made to it by the subordinate court or on a motion made by the Advocate-General or, in relation to a Union territory, by such Law Officer as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf. (3) xxx xxx xxx.” Without going into the facts of the case, only on this limited ground that the criminal contempt proceedings had not been initiated as per the provisions of Section 15 of the Act, in our opinion, the proceedings are vitiated and therefore, the impugned order passed by the High Court is neither just nor legal and therefore, we set aside the impugned order.

                                                              NON-REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.181 OF 1998


VILAS V. SANGHAI                         … APPELLANT

VERSUS



SUMERMAL MISHRIMAL BAFNA
& ANR.                                                 …RESPONDENTS


                                    WITH

                       CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.210 OF 1998

STATE OF MAHARASHTRA              … APPELLANT

VERSUS

SUMERMAL MISHRIMAL BAFNA
& ANR.                                                 …RESPONDENTS



                               J U D G M E N T

ANIL R. DAVE, J.

1.    Being aggrieved by the judgment dated 22nd  December,  1997  delivered
by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay in Criminal  Writ  Petition  No.22
of 1994, Criminal Appeal No.181 of 1998 has been filed by Vilas  V.  Sanghai
against the order of punishment imposed upon him  under  the  provisions  of
the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”)  and
Criminal Appeal No.210 of 1998 has been filed by the  State  of  Maharashtra
for setting aside the said judgment.

2.    The facts giving rise to the present litigation in a nutshell  are  as
under :-
      As two  appeals  have  been  filed  against  the  same  judgment,  for
narration of the facts, we have referred to the facts from  Criminal  Appeal
No.181 of 1998,  which  has  been  filed  by  Vilas  V.  Sanghai,  a  Police
Inspector, who was entrusted with investigation  of  a  case  filed  against
Respondent No.1, Sumermal Mishrimal Bafna, a  Trustee  of  Bafna  Charitable
Trust.  Respondent no.1, who is aged about  64  years  and  is  having  some
heart ailment,  claims  to  be  a  man  with  good  reputation.   A  private
complaint was filed against Respondent No.1  by  Shri  Umesh  Karia  to  the
effect that Respondent No.1 had committed an offence  punishable  under  the
provisions of Section 420 read with Sections 120-B and  109  of  the  Indian
Penal Code.  Investigation in  relation  to  the  said  complaint  had  been
entrusted to the Appellant, who was attached to  the  Crime  Branch  at  the
relevant time.

3.    Respondent No.1 had an apprehension that he might be arrested  in  the
course of investigation and therefore,  he  had  filed  an  application  for
anticipatory bail.  During  the  pendency  of  the  said  anticipatory  bail
application, the Appellant used to  remain  present  to  brief  the  learned
Public Prosecutor, who was opposing the said application.  No interim  order
was passed in the said application when the application was being heard  but
in the presence of the Appellant and in pursuance of the instructions  given
by the Appellant, the learned Public Prosecutor had made  a  statement  that
during the pendency of the said application, Respondent No.1  would  not  be
arrested, provided Respondent No.1 would cooperate with the  Police  in  the
investigation.

4.    In spite of the aforestated  assurance  given  to  the  Court  by  the
learned Public Prosecutor in pursuance of  the  instructions  given  by  the
Appellant, Respondent No.1 was arrested  on  21st  September,  1993,  though
hearing of the anticipatory bail application was fixed  on  22nd  September,
1993.  The case made out against the Appellant was that  after  the  arrest,
Respondent No.1 was handcuffed and was photographed in handcuffed  condition
and  the  said  photograph  had  been   published   in   local   newspapers.
Publication  of  such  a  photograph  adversely   affected   reputation   of
Respondent No.1.

5.    In  the  aforestated  circumstances,  Respondent  No.1  had  initiated
contempt proceedings against the Appellant as the  Appellant  had  committed
breach of an assurance  given  to  the  Court  through  the  learned  Public
Prosecutor that Respondent No.1 would not be arrested  during  the  pendency
of the anticipatory bail application.

6.    In the aforestated contempt proceedings, defence of the Appellant  was
that the assurance or undertaking which had been  given  to  the  Court  was
conditional.  The condition  was  that  Respondent  No.1  would  extend  his
cooperation  in  the  investigation,  but  as  Respondent   No.1   was   not
cooperative  and  was  deliberately  trying  to  create   hurdles   in   the
investigation, the Appellant was constrained to arrest  Respondent  No.1  on
21st September, 1993.

7.    After hearing the concerned parties and looking  at  the  record,  the
High Court  came  to  the  conclusion  that  the  Appellant  was  guilty  of
committing contempt  of  Court  and  was,  therefore,  sentenced  to  simple
imprisonment for 7 days with a fine of Rs.2,000/-.

8.    The learned counsel appearing for the  Appellant  submitted  that  the
Appellant had not committed criminal  contempt,  as  alleged  or  otherwise.
The main thrust of  the  argument  of  the  learned  counsel  was  that  the
provisions of Section 15 of the  Act  had  not  been  complied  with  before
passing the impugned order punishing the Appellant for  committing  criminal
contempt of Court.  He also submitted  that  there  was  no  breach  of  any
undertaking or assurance given to  the  Court  as  the  assurance  given  on
behalf of the Appellant was conditional.  By not  extending  cooperation  to
the investigating agency,  Respondent  No.1  had  committed  breach  of  his
assurance and therefore, undertaking given by the Appellant  had  also  come
to an end.

9.    So far as the legal provisions are concerned, he  submitted  that  the
provisions of Section 15 of the Act ought to have  been  complied  with  for
initiating proceedings for punishing the Appellant  for  criminal  contempt.
In the instant case, the action was not initiated on a Motion  made  by  the
Advocate General or on a reference made by the subordinate  Court  concerned
as per the provisions of  Section  15  of  the  Act.   For  the  aforestated
reason, the entire proceedings were vitiated.

10.   On the other hand, the learned counsel appearing for  Respondent  No.1
supported the order passed by the High Court and submitted  that  there  was
clear violation of the undertaking given by the Appellant to the Court.   He
stressed on the fact that the application for anticipatory bail  was  to  be
heard on 22nd September, 1993 and  Respondent  No.1  was  arrested  on  21st
September, 1993.  There was no justifiable reason for  arresting  Respondent
No.1 a day before the date of hearing.  The Appellant could have  very  well
waited for a day and could have made the grievance  before  the  Court  that
Respondent No.1 was not cooperative and  therefore,  the  investigation  was
adversely affected, if the averment with regard to  non-cooperation  of  the
Appellant was correct.  Instead of waiting for a day, in a  hot  haste,  the
Appellant arrested Respondent No.1 on 21st  September,  1993  and  the  said
fact clearly denotes that the Appellant  had  very  scant  respect  for  the
assurance given by him to the Court.   He,  therefore,  submitted  that  the
impugned order is  just  and  proper  and  therefore,  the  Appeal  deserved
dismissal.

11.   We have heard the learned counsel and have recorded the facts  of  the
case.

12.   We find substance in what has been submitted by  the  learned  counsel
appearing for the Appellant.

13.   The impugned order is in violation of the provisions of Section 15  of
the Act.  Relevant portion of Section 15 reads as under :
“15. Cognizance of criminal contempt in other cases. - (1) In the case of  a
criminal contempt, other than a contempt referred  to  in  section  14,  the
Supreme Court or the High Court may take action on its own motion  or  on  a
motion made by—

(a) the Advocate-General, or

(b) any other person, with the consent in writing to  the  Advocate-General,
or

(c) in relation to the High Court for the Union  territory  of  Delhi,  such
Law Officer as the Central Government may, by notification in  the  Official
Gazette, specify in this behalf, or any other person, with  the  consent  in
writing of such Law Officer.

(2) In the case of any criminal contempt of a subordinate  court,  the  High
Court may take action on a reference made to it by the subordinate court  or
on a motion made  by  the  Advocate-General  or,  in  relation  to  a  Union
territory,  by  such  Law  Officer  as  the  Central  Government   may,   by
notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.

(3)   xxx   xxx  xxx.”


14.    In  the  instant  case,  the  alleged  criminal  contempt  was  of  a
subordinate Court and therefore, the action  could  have  been  taken  on  a
reference made to the High Court by the subordinate Court  or  on  a  Motion
made by the Advocate General, but the  proceedings  had  been  initiated  in
pursuance of an application submitted by Respondent No.1.  From the  record,
we do not find that the learned Advocate General had ever given his  consent
for initiation of the said proceedings.

15.   Without going into the facts of the case, only on this limited  ground
that the criminal contempt proceedings had not been  initiated  as  per  the
provisions of Section 15 of the Act, in our  opinion,  the  proceedings  are
vitiated and therefore, the impugned order  passed  by  the  High  Court  is
neither just nor legal and therefore, we set aside the impugned order.

16.   The appeals are accordingly disposed of as allowed.



                                                             .…………………………….J.
                                        (ANIL R. DAVE)



                                                             ……………………………..J.
                               (L. NAGESWARA RAO)
NEW DELHI
SEPTEMBER 30, 2016.

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