P.T. Raman Nayar, J. -
(1.) ON the 9th November 1967, the respondent, who is the Chief Minister of this State, held a press conference, and a report of what he said at that conference appeared in the issue of the "Indian Express" of the 10th November as also in other newspapers. The report that appeared in the "Indian Express" has been referred to in the memorandum of charges served on the respondent as Ext. P1; and, in the counter-affidavit filed by him, the respondent has stated that report is substantially correct though incomplete in some respects. The following is the relevant portion of the report:
"Marx and Engels considered the judiciary as an instrument of oppression and even today when the Stats set-up has not undergone any change it continues to be so, Mr. Nambudiri-pad told a news conference this morning. He further said that Judges are guided and dominated by class hatred, class interests and class prejudices and where the evidence is balanced between a well-dressed pot-bellied rich man and a poor, ill-dressed and illiterate person the judge instinctively favours the former, the Chief Minister alleged. The Chief Minister said that election of Judges would be a better arrangement, but unless the basic State set-up is changed it could not solve the problem. Referring to the Constitution the Chief Minister said the oath he had taken was limited only to see that the Constitutional provisions are practised. 'I have not taken any oath' the Chief Minister said 'that every word and every clause in the Constitution is sacred. Before that he had also taken an oath, Mr. Nambudiripad said, holding aloft a copy of the Marxist Party's programme and read out extracts from it to say that the party had always held that nothing much could be done under the limitations of the Constitution. Raising this subject of Constitution and judiciary suo motu at the fag end of his news conference the Chief Minister said so many reports have appeared in the press that Marxists like himself, Mr. A. K. Gopalan and Mr. Imbichi Bava (Transport Minister) were making statements critical of the judiciary 'presumably with the idea that anything spoken about the court is contempt of court.'
His party had always taken the view, the Chief Minister said that judiciary is part of the class rule of the ruling classes. And there are limits to the sanctity of the judiciary. The judiciary is weighted against workers, peasants and other sections of the working classes and the laws and the system of judiciary essentially serve the exploiting classes. Even where the judiciary is separated from the executive it is still subject to the influence and pressure of the executive. To say this is not wrong. The judiciary he argued was only an institution like the President or Parliament or the Public Service Commission. Even the President is subject to impeachment. After all, sovereignty rested not with any one of them but with the people. Even with regard to judges confidential records are being kept why? The judge is subject to his own idiosyncrasies and prejudices. 'We hold the View that they are guided by individual idiosyncrasies, guided and dominated by, class interests, class hatred, and class prejudices. In these conditions we have not pledged ourselves not to criticise the judiciary or even individual judgments.' This did not mean, he explained, that they could challenge the integrity of the individual judge or cast reflections on individual judgments, the Chief Minister contended. He did not subscribe to the view that it was an aspersion on integrity when he said that Judges are guided and dominated by class hatred and class prejudices. 'The High Court and the Supreme Court can haul me up, if they want' he said."
(A brief account that appeared in the "Mathrubhoomi" of the same date is also set out in the petitioner's affidavit. But we need not, concern ourselves with that since what is referred to in the memorandum of charges and is admitted by the petitioner to be correct is the report in the "Indian Express"). According to the petitioner, an advocate of this Court and a member of the Bar Councils of India and of this 'States, acting, it is said, at the instance of the latter body, and according to the President of the Kerala Advocates' Association, Ernakulam who has. been allowed to intervene on behalf of that body, this public statement made by the respondent constitutes grave contempt of court in that it is calculated to so undermine the confidence of the people in the courts of this country as to interfere with the course of justice and undermine the authority of the law.
(2.) WHEN questioned the commencement of the hearing, the respondent denied the charge and stated that he had nothing to add to the counter-affidavit he had already filed after reading the copies of the petition, the affidavit, and the memorandum of charges earlier served upon him, and after fully understanding what the charge against him was.
This counter-affidavit of the respondent runs to over fourteen closely typed pages and is largely devoted to an exposition of the respondent's particular political philosophy and his views on current political events. It is accompanied by a document, Ex. Rl, which is said to be an extract of Chap.5 of the programme adopted in November 1964 by the sCommunist Party of India (Marxist) to which the respondent belongs. With all this we are not really concerned. That the statement was born out of firmly held and long cherished political convictions might be relevant as showing that it was deliberately and not lightly made, and that the respondent believes in what he has said. But, what those convictions are, and what the respondent thinks of current political events, is hardly relevant.
Para.3 of the counter-affidavit is relevant. It runs thus: "The summary of the statement I made in the Press Conference on 9-11-1967, published in the Indian Express dated 10-11-1967 and quoted in para 5 of the affidavit, is substantially correct, though incomplete in some respects. It conveys the; ideas which I wanted to give expression to when I dealt with the subject in my Press Conference." No attempt is however made to show in what respects the summary is incomplete.
(3.) IT is difficult to make a summary of the counter-affidavit, and, for the rest, I think that it should suffice to say that the respondent asserts that his statement was only "a fair criticism of the system of judicial administration with a view to making it conform to our people's cherished objective of a really democratic, egalitarian society moving along the path of socialism." IT was made by him out of a sense of duty as a political worker, as a legislator of standing, as the leader of the legislature of the State in order to educate public opinion and reform the administration. There is no aspersion cast on any particular judgment or any particular judge and for these reasons the statement cannot amount to contempt of court. IT does not offend the majesty of the law or undermine the dignity of the courts. IT does not obstruct or tend to obstruct the flow of the stream of justice. IT has not the tendency to lower the authority, dignity or prestige of the courts in the discharge of their duties and in the administration of justice and does not scandalise the judiciary of this State or of the rest of India.
The learned Advocate General who has appeared in response to notice supports the stand of the respondent that the statement is only fair and reasonables criticism of the judiciary as a whole, casting no aspersion on any particular judge or court, and that, therefore, it does not amount to contempt of court.;