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contempt of court ?= In the present case, even before filing of the appeal the appellant has brought to the notice of the State Government the order passed by the learned Single Judge and sought its implementation. In the representation he had not voiced and could not have voiced any opinion on the appeal as the same was not filed till then. The Under Secretary while making recommendation also did not voice any opinion on the pending appeal. It has to be borne in mind that any attempt to influence the outcome of the matter pending before the court to prejudice the parties therein may prejudice or interfere with the due course of any judicial proceeding but in our opinion, mere filing of the representation and

REPORTABLE
High Court of Karnataka, Bangalore

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 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 CRIMINAL APPEAL Nos. OF 2011
 (@ SLP(Crl.) Nos. 844-847 of 2008)

H.G. RANGANGOUD ... APPELLANT

 VERSUS

M/S.STATE TRADING CORPORATION 
OF INDIA LIMITED & ORS. ...RESPONDENTS

 J U D G M E N T 

CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD, J. 

1. Petitioner, aggrieved by the order passed by 

the Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court 

initiating proceeding for contempt in exercise of 

its suo motu power, has preferred these special 

leave petitions.

2. Leave granted.

 2

3. Bereft of unnecessary details the facts giving 

rise to the present appeals are that the appellant 

applied on 16th of April, 2003 for grant of mining 

lease for iron ore over an area of 350 acres in 

Yeshawanthnagar Range of the Kumarswamy Reserve 

Forest Area within Sandur Taluk in Bellary District 

of the State of Karnataka. The State Government 

processed the request and in exercise of powers 

under Section 5 (1) of the Mines and Minerals 

(Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (hereinafter 

referred to as `the Act') by its letter dated 9th of 

February, 2004 recommended to the Central 

Government for grant of mining lease in favour of 

the appellant to the extent of 16.8 hectares. 

However before any decision could be taken, the 

Central Government issued notification dated 27th of 

June, 2005 in exercise of the power under Section 

17 A (1A) of the Act and reserved iron ore deposits 

in the area in question for exploitation by State 

Trading Corporation of India Limited, a public 

 3

sector undertaking. In view of the aforesaid 

reservation the Central Government returned the 

proposal of the State Government to grant mining 

lease to the appellant by its letter dated 21st of 

July, 2005. Aggrieved by the aforesaid 

notification appellant preferred WP No. 19339 of 

2005 (H.G. Rangangoud v. Minister of Coal & Mines, 

represented by the Secretary & Ors.) before the 

Karnataka High Court, inter alia praying for 

quashing the notification reserving the iron ore 

deposits in favour of the State Trading Corporation 

of India Limited. The writ petition filed by the 

appellant was heard along with another writ 

petition filed by Salgaocar Mining Industries 

Private Limited and the learned Single Judge by its 

judgment and order dated 14th of August, 2007 

quashed the aforesaid notification dated 27th of 

June, 2005. Armed with the order of the High 

Court, appellant represented to the State 

Government to consider his application for grant of 

 4

mining lease by its representation dated 18th of 

September, 2007. After one day of filing of the 

representation i.e. on 20th of September, 2007 the 

State Trading Corporation, aggrieved by the order 

of the learned Single Judge preferred appeal before 

the High Court. Said appeal was posted for 

consideration on 3rd of October, 2007 and the 

Division Bench of the High Court taking into 

consideration the `enormity' of the case and 

finding that all the parties have been served and 

represented, directed for its final disposal on 11th 

of October, 2007. However, no interim order was 

passed. As directed, the matter was heard and 

reserved for judgment but before the judgment could 

be pronounced the State Trading Corporation, the 

appellant before the High Court, brought to its 

notice that "when the matter was in the hearing 

process, Government of Karnataka has sent a 

communication to the Union of India for mining 

lease in favour of the writ petitioners". The 

 5

Division Bench of the High Court, when informed 

about the aforesaid fact "called upon the 

Government Advocate to explain this situation". 

The explanation was furnished in which it was inter 

alia stated that "as there was no interim order 

granted in the writ appeal and keeping in view the 

fact that if the mining area is not sanctioned to 

the writ petitioners the existing mining operation 

would be forced to close down and keeping in view 

the jeopardy to the workmen, such recommendation 

has been made." The explanation put forth by the 

State Government did not find favour with the High 

Court and on its prima facie finding that the 

aforesaid conduct "amounts to interference with the 

due course of judicial process" initiated suo motu 

criminal contempt proceedings against the appellant 

herein and K. Jayachandra, Under Secretary to the 

Government of Karnataka, Commerce and Industries 

Department. While doing so the High Court observed 

as follows:

 6

 "........On going through the affidavit as 
 well as the records, prima facie it 
 appears to us that there is a clear 
 attempt on the part of the writ 
 petitioner Mr. H.G. Rangangoud and the 
 concerned official to take such action 
 when the grant of lease/licence itself 
 was seized and was under consideration 
 by this Court thereby cause on the 
 merit or decision of this court."

4. Mr. P. Vishwanatha Shetty, Senior Advocate 

appearing on behalf of the appellant submits that 

the appellant had filed the representation in the 

light of the order of the learned Single Judge even 

before the appeal was filed against the judgment of 

the learned Single Judge and hence it cannot be 

said that the appellant in any way interfered with 

the due course of judicial process. Accordingly he 

submits that the order initiating the proceeding 

for criminal contempt deserves to be set aside. 

Ms. Anitha Shenoy appears on behalf of the State of 

Karnataka and submits that the act of filing the 

representation by the appellant and the 

recommendation made by the Under Secretary in no 

 7

way interferes with the due course of judicial 

process and in such a state of affairs she is not 

in a position to defend the order of the 

High Court. At the same breath she reminds us that 

contempt is a matter between the court and the 

contemnor and this Court may take the view which it 

considers just and proper. 

5. We have given our most anxious consideration to 

the submissions advanced and at the outset we may 

observe that this Court seldom interferes with an 

order initiating a contempt proceeding and 

ordinarily relegates the person charged with 

contempt to file a show cause before the court 

which had initiated the proceeding. But this is 

not an absolute rule and in the facts of a given 

case when this Court comes to the conclusion that 

the allegation made, even when not denied do not 

constitute contempt, interferes with the order 

initiating contempt proceeding so as to avoid 

unnecessary harassment to the person served with 

 8

contempt notice. We proceed to consider the 

present appeal bearing in mind the aforesaid 

principle.

6. It is relevant here to state that the 

proceeding has been initiated against the appellant 

for criminal contempt on the ground that the act 

done by the appellant amounts to interference with 

the due course of judicial process. The expression 

"criminal contempt" has been defined under Section 

2 (c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 and in 

the present case we are concerned with Section 2 

(c) (ii), the same reads as follows:

 "2. Definitions. - In this Act, unless the 
 context otherwise requires, - 

 xxx xxx xxx

 (c) "criminal contempt" means the 
 publication (whether by words, spoken 
 or written, or by signs, or by visible 
 representation, or otherwise) of any 
 matter or the doing of any other act 
 whatsoever which - 

 xxx xxx xxx

 9

 (ii) prejudices, or interferes or tends to 
 interfere with, the due course of any 
 judicial proceeding; or

 xxx xxx xxx."

 From a plain reading of the aforesaid provision 

it is evident that an act which prejudices or 

interferes or tends to interfere with the due 

course of judicial proceeding comes within the 

mischief of criminal contempt. The power to punish 

for contempt is inherent in Courts of record and 

described as a necessary incident to every court of 

justice. The power is inalienable attribute of 

court and inheres in every Court of record. This 

power though inherent to the High Court is given a 

constitutional status by Article 215 of the 

Constitution. It is to secure public respect and 

confidence in the judicial process. Rule of law is 

the basic rule of governance of any civilized 

democratic polity. It is only through the courts 

that rule of law unfolds its contours and 

establishes its concept. For the judiciary to 

 10

carry out its obligations effectively and true to 

the spirit with which it is sacredly entrusted the 

task, constitutional courts have been given the 

power to punish for contempt, but greater the 

power; higher the responsibility. 

7. In the present case, even before filing of the 

appeal the appellant has brought to the notice of 

the State Government the order passed by the 

learned Single Judge and sought its implementation. 

In the representation he had not voiced and could 

not have voiced any opinion on the appeal as the 

same was not filed till then. The Under Secretary 

while making recommendation also did not voice any 

opinion on the pending appeal. It has to be borne 

in mind that any attempt to influence the outcome 

of the matter pending before the court to prejudice 

the parties therein may prejudice or interfere with 

the due course of any judicial proceeding but in 

our opinion, mere filing of the representation and 

 11

making recommendation thereon in no way prejudices 

or interferes or tends to interfere with the due 

course of any judicial proceeding. In our opinion, 

it is criminal contempt to voice opinion on a case 

pending in court as that would seem to influence 

the outcome of the matter and to prejudice the 

parties therein. However, we hasten to add that 

fair reporting of court proceedings and fair 

comments on the legal issues do not amount to 

contempt. The order of the learned Single Judge 

was not stayed. Further, mere filing of the appeal 

would not operate as a stay of order appealed from.

8. When tested on the aforesaid anvil we are of 

the opinion that the act alleged in no way 

prejudices or interferes or tends to interfere with 

the due course of any judicial proceeding. From 

the conspectus of the discussion aforesaid we have 

no doubt in our mind that the proceeding initiated 

against the appellant as also the Under Secretary 

to the Government of Karnataka, Commerce and 

 12

Industries Department is not just and appropriate 

and an abuse of the process of the court. This 

being so, we are duty bound to interfere at this 

stage itself.

9. True it is that Under Secretary to the 

Government of Karnataka, Commerce and Industries 

Department against whom the contempt proceeding has 

been initiated by the impugned order, not chosen to 

file any petition before this Court but in view of 

what has been observed above we are of the opinion 

that it shall be too technical to deny him the 

relief by this Court, which has jurisdiction for 

doing complete justice in any cause or matter 

pending before it. Therefore, he shall also be 

entitled to the same relief as that of the 

appellant. 

10. Accordingly, these appeals are allowed, the 

impugned judgment and order is set aside.

 13

 ..........................................................J.
 (H.L. DATTU)

 ...... ................................................J.
 (CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD)

NEW DELHI,
NOVEMBER 11, 2011. 14

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