HAREKRISHNA MAHATAB Vs. BALKRISHNA KAR
HIGH COURT OF ORISSA
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Mohapatra, J. -
(1.) The present contempt proceedings were started on an application filed by Shri H.K. Mahatab who was the Chief Minister of the State of Orissa and thereafter a Union Minister in the Central Cabinet. He is at present a Member of the Parliament. The petition is against opposite party No. 1. Balakrishna Kar, Editor, Matrubhumi, and Proprietor of Saraswata Press. Opposite party No. 2, Rama Chandra Kar is the Printer and Publisher of Matrubhumi. Matrubhumi is a daily Oriya paper having a fair circulation in the State of Orissa. It has its weekly issue also. The opposite parties, in their paper Matrubhumi, had published several articles criticising the conduct of Shri Mahatab while he was the Chief Minister oi" Orissa and while he was a Member of the Central Cabinet of the charges uf several corrupt practices, bribery, dishonesty and some anti-social and unpatriotic acts on account of which Shri Mahatab had filed a suit for defamation in Original Suit No. 189 of 1952 in the Court of the Subordinate Judge of Cuttak on 3-9-1952 against the opposite parties on the allegation that the opposite parties, with a view to humiliate the petitioner and damage his political career and to bring him down in the estimation of the people in his Constituency and of the general public, have been deliberately and persistently editing, printing and publishing maliciously false and highly defamatory matters in the several issues of the Oriya paper Matrubhumi. The petitioner had valued the suit at a lakh of rupees.
(2.) The present petition is to the effect that while the said suit is pending, the opposite parties are still continuing and persisting in writing editorial and publishing articles with the deliberate intention of organising and mobilising public opinion in favour of the opposite parties and against the petitioner, vilifying and abusing the present petitioner in very filthy language, prejudicing mankind against the petitioner and making comments on the merits of the case pending before the Subordinate Judge of Cuttack and further asserting that the opposite parties are perfectly right and justified in their conduct and the petitioner has no merit in his case before the Subordinate Judge. These publications, according to the petitioner, are deliberately intended and have a strong tendency to interfere with the due course of justice in the original suit between the parties. On this petition, notice was issued to the opposite parties on 18-12-1952, 14-11953 and 21-1-1953 to show cause why they should not be punished or otherwise suitably dealt with according to law for contempt of Court for having published articles in the Daily and Weekly issues of Matrubhumi. The dates of the issues are given in the notice as 5-9-1952; 7-9-1952; 8-9-1952; 11-9-1952; 13-9-1952; 159- 1952; 16-9-1952; 6-10-1952 and 13-10-1952. The portions which were deemed prima facie to bring the articles within the mischief of contempt were underlined in red ink.
(3.) The main plea taken before us by the opposite parties is that the articles do not constitute contempt. They had never the intention of vilifying or abusing the plaintiff in the suit nor did they assert regarding the merits of the case. The articles have no tendency to prejudice mankind against the plaintiff. Before examining each of these articles to see whether all or any of them comes within the mischief of the law of contempt, let us examine the position of law on this particular branch of the subject.;
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