Decided on July 19,1993



- (1.) Main point that calls for decision at the moment in both these petitions is whether the proceedings for contempt were initated within a period of one year from the date on which contempt is alleged to have been committed. The further point for consideration in Criminal Petition No. 1 of 1991, is whether a petition for contempt is not maintainable, if it is not supported by an affidavit of the petitioner.
(2.) In Criminal Contempt Petition No. 1/91, respondent is Shri Ashok Kumar Subba, President, Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee (I). On 2-12-1991 a petition under Section 15(1)(a) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as the Act) was filed by Shri V. P. Sarathi, Advocate General of Sikkim, on the allegation that he had received from someone on 1-11-91 by post a photocopy of a memorandum alleged to have been submitted by the respondent to Shri Arjun Singh, the then Union Minister for Human Resources Development, on the occasion of his visit to Gangtok on 1-10-1991 which contains certain statements under the heading "Corruption of Judiciary" casting aspersions on the judicial machinery in the State and the administration of Justice and bringing the administration of justice of Sikkim into contempt. A photocopy of the aforesaid memorandum dated 1-10-91 and the envelope in which the said copy of the memorandum was received were filed along with the petition as Annexures 'A' and 'B' respectively. The petition was not, however, supported by any affidavit. The case was taken up for hearing on 3-12-91 when on request of learned Advocate General the matter was adjourned for orders to 4-3-1992. The learned Advocate-General was also required to file on affidavit connecting the respondent with Annexure 'A' by the date fixed. On 4-3-92, the learned Advocate General requested for two weeks' time for further examination of the matter whereupon the case was adjourned to 20-3-92. On that date again a direction was given that an "affidavit shall be filed by the date fixed as directed in the previous order". Again no affidavit was filed. However, an application was filed on 18-3-92 by the learned Advocate General to the effect that he had written a letter to Shri Arjun Singh on 9-1-1992 requesting him to let the petitioner know if the original of the memorandum had been received by him. The said letter was received by the office of the Minister on 17-1-1992 but no reply had been received from the Minister even though almost two months had passed, and as such, in view of his inability to establish a nexus between Annexure 'A' and the respondent, he was not in a position to file an affidavit as directed by the Court. A copy of the letter dated 9-1-92 was filed as Annexure 'C' and the A.D. Card as Annexure 'D' along with the application. The application further mentions that the petitioner had been able to pracure copies of the local newspaper 'Sikkim Observer' dated 12-10-1991, a copy of which was filed as Annexure 'E' which contained similar derogatory statements. A prayer was made in the application for keeping all these three documents on record and to condone the non-filing of the affidavit. Vide order dated 20-3-92, all these three documents were directed to be kept on record and the case was adjourned, on the request of the learned Advocate-General, to 28-4-92 for orders.
(3.) One day earlier on 27-4-92, the learned Advocate-General filed the other Criminal Contempt Petition which was registered as Criminal Petition No. 1/92 impleading Shri Tshering T. Namgyal, Publisher and Printer of Sikkim Observer as the first respondent and Shri Jigme N. Kazi, Editot of that paper, as the second respondent and making a prayer to initiate contempt proceedings against both these respondents in respect of the publication. Both these petitions came up for orders on l6-6-199, on which date notices were directed to be issued in accordance with Rule 183, of the Sikkim High Court (Practice and Procedure) Rules, 1991 to the respondents "to show cause", either in person or through counsel, as to why proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 shall not be initiated against" them and the cases were directed to be listed for orders on 24-7-1992.;

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