B.K.Ray, J. -
(1.) ON the application dated 9 -9 -1968 of Sri P.C.S. Rao, Magistrate, First Class (Executive), Bargarh (briefly referred to as the Magistrate) to this Court praying to initiate contempt proceedings against the present 26 contemners, notices far can tempt had been issued against them. On the basis of the allegations against them, these 26 contemners may be divided into different groups far convenience in the manner indicated below:
(a) (i) Sri Rajendra Panda, Advocate of the Bargarh Bar who presided aver two meetings of Bargarh Bar association held an 20 -6 -1968 and 30 -7 -1968 in which two resolutions imputing dishonesty and lack of integrity in the Magistrate were passed and who delivered a speech in a public meeting held an 1 -9 -1968 demanding transfer of the Magistrate from Bargarh.
(ii) Sri Arabinda Das, Advocate, Bargarh who as Secretary of the Bargarh Bar Association attended the Bar Association meetings referred to a have and communicated the resolutions of the said two meetings to various authorities and who proposed the resolution passed in the public meeting held an 1 -9 -1968.
(b) (i) Sri Ambika Charan Sharma, Editor, Printer and Publisher of the news magazine Sata Kahile Chhati Fate who in the issue of the said magazine dated 24 -11 -1967, published the news item containing some allegations against the Magistrate and also addressed the public meeting held on 1 -9 -1968 strongly criticising the Magistrate as reported in the newspaper, Matrubhumi, in its issue dated 4 -9 -1968;
(ii) Sri Surendra Mohanty, Editor of the Oriya daily newspaper, Kalinga, for the publication of the news in the said paper on 4 -9 -1968 relating to the public meeting held at Bargarh on 1 -9 -1968; and Sri Bankim Chandra Das, Publisher and Printer of the said Kalinga;
(iii) Sri Sriharsa Misra, Editor of the local newspaper, Prajatantra, dated 4 -9 -1968 in which the news relating to the public meeting held on 1 -9 -1968 at Bargarh was published; and Sri Narendra Chandra Pradhan, Printer and Publisher of the said Prajatantra;
(iv) Sri Gour Chandra Rout, Editor of the local news paper Matrubhumi dated 4 -9 -1968 in which the news relating to the public meeting held on 1 -9 -1968 at Bargarh was published; and Sri Ram Chandra Kar, Printer and Publisher thereof.
(c)(i) Sri Hariram Agarwalla, Proprietor of New Art Press, Bargarh who published a pamphlet dated 30 -8 -1968 containing allegations against the aforesaid Magistrate purporting to have been issued on behalf of the President and members of the Bargarh Bar Association;
(ii) Sri Gourhari Bhoi, Clerk of Shri D. Kar, Advocate, Bargarh;
(iii) Sri B.B. Sahu, clerk of Sri D.M. Das, Advocate, Bargarh.
Sri Bhoi and Sri Sahu are alleged to have announced over the mike on 30 -8 -1968 the contents of the aforesaid pamphlet purporting to have been issued by the President and members of the Bargarh Bar Association;
(d)(i) Sri Satchidananda Misra who convened and addressed the public meeting on 1 -9 -1968 and proposed a resolution in the said meeting demanding transfer of the Magistrate;
(2) Sri Ramkrishna Misra who presided over the said public meeting;
(3) Sri Purusottam Sharma,
(4) Sri Bhabani Shankar Naik,
(5) Sri Harihar Das,
(6) Sri Gopalkrishna Misra,
(7) Sri Lokanath Misra,
(8) Sri Parikhit Satpathy,
(9) Sri Madhab Mohapatra,
(10) Sri Haraprasad Naik.
Nos. (3) to (10) are Advocates who attended the aforesaid public meeting and delivered speeches demanding transfer of the Magistrate.
(11) Sri Sadananda Panigrahi, Secretary, Samasya Samadhan Samiti, Bargarh;
(12) Sri Srinivas Agarwalla, Proprietor, Narasingha Trading Company Bargarh;
(13) Sri Purna Chandra Sastry, Kaviraj;
(14) Sri Madhusudan Patnaik, Student, Bargarh Panchayat College.
Nos. (11) to (14) attended the said public meeting and delivered speeches.
(2.) THE circumstances in which the present proceeding has been initiated may briefly be stated as follows: Sri P.C.S. Rao was functioning as a Magistrate, First Class (Executive), Bargarh since 19 -10 -1966 and was dealing with matters under the preventive sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The members of the Bar Association at Bargarh were appearing in his Court. Contemners Sri Rajendra Panda and Sri Arabinda Das, Advocates were respectively the President and the Secretary of the said Bar Association. The members of the Association passed two resolutions one on 20 -6 -1968 and the other on 30 -7 -1968, wherein they charged the Magistrate with corrupt practices and condemned him by saying that his attitude, conduct and behaviour were not conducive to the maintenance of the dignity of the Court and that appearance of lawyers in his Court was of no assistance to the litigant public. In the resolution of the latter date, the members of the Bar Association decided not to appear in the Court of the Magistrate. Copies of the resolutions were sent to the higher authorities. Subsequent to the passing of the two resolutions, the Association published a pamphlet saying that justice in the Court of the Magistrate had become a marketable commodity and as all attempts of the members of the Bar for redress had failed, they boycotted his Court. The pamphlet further went on to say that as the said boycotting was going against the interest of the litigant public, it was necessary that the situation should be tackled by the members of the public for which there would be a meeting of the public on 1 -9 -1968. In pursuance to this notice circulated through the pamphlet, a public meeting was held on 1 -9 -1968 at Bargarh presided over by contemner Sri Ramkrishna Misra. Many of the other contemners took part in the meeting either by delivering speeches or by proposing or seconding the resolutions passed in that meeting. Reports about the meeting and the resolutions passed therein were published in the daily news paper, viz : Matrubhumi, Kalinga and Prajatantra. Prior to the meeting of the Bargarh Bar Association, a news scandalising the Magistrate had also been published in the newspaper Sata Kahile Chhati Fate of which contemner Ambika Charan Sharma was the Editor, Printer and Publisher. Contemner Hariram Agarwalla is alleged to have published the pamphlet in his press and contemners Gourhari Bhoi and B.B. Sahu are alleged to have proclaimed the contents of the pamphlet to the public on 30 -8 -1968. The Magistrate brought the aforesaid facts to the notice of this Court by an application in which he prayed for starting contempt proceedings against the contemners. It was upon this application that contempt notices were issued against the contemners calling upon them to show cause why they should not be committed for contempt under the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act. In pursuance to the notices of contempt, most of the contemners have showed cause.
(3.) THE causes shown by Sri Rajendra Panda and Sri Arabinda Das are substantially the same. According to them, the meetings of the Bar Association in which the two impugned resolutions were passed were closed door meetings. The resolutions were not released to the press. They were passed with the sole object of upholding the dignity, reputation and prestige of the Court and for restoring public confidence in the administration of justice. The members of the Bar who attended the two meetings were conscious that nothing should be done to obstruct the course of justice. According to the contemners, the Bar Association owes a solemn duty and responsibility to uphold the dignity of the Court and to maintain the confidence of the litigating people in the administration of justice. When allegations of corrupt practices were receive by the members of the Bar Association, they in a meeting held on 4 -11 -1967 discussed them and it was decided that the President and the Secretary of the Association along with Sri R. B. Misra would meet the higher authorities on deputation. Pursuant to this decision, the deputation met on 30 -11 -1967 the Sub -Divisional Officer, Bargarh who gave the deputation to understand that the Magistrate would be transferred. Thereafter, the Bar Association in a meeting held on 2 -12 -1967 passed a resolution that direct action was not necessary and matters should wait to enable the Sub -Divisional Officer to effectuate his promise. In December, 1967, the deputation of the Bar again met Sri S. Kanungo District Magistrate of Sambalpur who assured them that he would take prompt action after making necessary enquiries. Within a fortnight thereafter all criminal cases from the file of the Magistrate were transferred to the file of Sri D. Naik, another Magistrate who dealt with them for two months. Thereafter, Sri D. Naik went on casual leave for four days and in the meantime Sri S. Kanungo, District Magistrate was transferred from Sambalpur. During these four days when Sri D. Naik was on leave, all the criminal cases were again re -transferred to the file of the Magistrate for administrative reasons. This move by the authority is attributed by the contemners to the fact that as the Magistrate was related to Sri Ramsheshya, an important member of the then Council of Ministers of the State of Orissa, the latter intervened to bring about a re -transfer of the cases. After the Magistrate took charge of the criminal cases once again, allegations of corrupt practices were received by the members of the Bar against him. Hence, again a closed door meeting of the members of the Bar was convened on 20 -6 -1968 and one of the impugned resolution was passed and copies thereof were sent to the authorities for necessary action. Thereafter, the members of the Bar waited for some time with the hope that the authorities would take steps in the matter, but when no action was taken on the basis of the resolution dated 20 -6 -1968, in another closed door meeting, the members of the Bar passed the second impugned resolution resolving to boycott the Magistrate 's Court. Thereafter, a delegation of the members of the Bar met some Ministers but without any effect. All attempts having £ailed, a public meeting was called at Bargarh on 1 -9 -1968, which was attended by the President, Secretary and some other members of the local Bar and they are before this Court as contemners. It is said in the show -cause that when the Bar failed in its attempt, the citizens of the area took up the cause and demanded transfer of the Magistrate in that public meeting. The members of the Bar who spoke in the meeting did not say anything which would amount to contempt of Court. Though none of the contemners denies having spoken at the said meeting it is asserted that they do not remember what exactly they spoke. In these circumstances, it is said that there has been no contempt and the proceeding be dropped.;