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Contempt of Court – Editorial in Indian Express on report of Kuldip Singh Commission’s report – Whether the commission is a court -Constitutional Bench upheld that The Commission constituted under the 1952 Act is a fact finding body to enable the appropriate Government to decide as to the course of action to be followed. Such Commission is not required to adjudicate upon the rights of the parties and has no adjudicatory functions. The Government is not bound to accept its recommendations or act upon its findings. The mere fact that the procedure adopted by the Commission is of a legal character and it has the power to administer oath will not clothe it with the status of Court. That being so, in our view, the Commission appointed under the 1952 Act is not a Court for the purposes of Contempt of Courts Act even though it is headed by a sitting Supreme Court Judge. Moreover, Section 10A of the 1952 Act leaves no matter of doubt that the High Court has been conferred with the power to take cognizance of the complaint in respect of the acts calculated to bring the Commission or any member thereof into disrepute. Section 10A provides the power of constructive contempt to the Commission by making a reference to the High Court with a right of appeal to this Court. Our answer to the first question is, therefore, in the negative. In view of the above reasons, the contempt petitions are dismissed and the contempt notices are discharged. = CONTEMPT PETITION (CRL.) NO. 11 OF 1990 Dr. Subramanian Swamy …… Petitioner Vs. Arun Shourie …… Respondent = 2014 July. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41786

Contempt of Court –  Editorial in Indian Express on report of Kuldip Singh Commission’s report – Whether the commission is a court -Constitutional Bench upheld that The Commission constituted   under the 1952 Act  is  a  fact finding body to enable the  appropriate  Government  to  decide  as  to  the

course of action to  be  followed.   Such  Commission  is  not  required  to adjudicate  upon  the  rights  of  the  parties  and  has  no   adjudicatory functions.  The Government is not bound to  accept  its  recommendations  or act upon its findings.  The mere fact that  the  procedure  adopted  by  the Commission is of a legal character and it has the power to  administer  oath will not clothe it with the status of Court.  That being so,  in  our  view, the Commission appointed under the 1952 Act is not a Court for the  purposes of Contempt of Courts Act even though it is  headed  by  a  sitting  Supreme Court Judge.     Moreover, Section 10A of the 1952 Act leaves no  matter  of doubt that the High  Court  has  been  conferred  with  the  power  to  take cognizance of the complaint in respect of the acts calculated to  bring  the Commission or any member thereof into disrepute.  Section 10A  provides  the power of constructive contempt to the Commission by making  a  reference  to the High Court with a right of appeal to  this  Court.  Our  answer  to  the first question is, therefore, in the negative.

 In view  of  the  above  reasons,  the  contempt  petitions  are dismissed and the contempt notices are discharged. =

“If shame had survived”

The legal opinion that  the  former  Chief  Justice  of  India,  Mr.  Y.  V.

Chandrachud, has  given  on  the  Kuldip  Singh  Commission’s  report  is  a

stunning  indictment.=

It so happened that  Justice  Kuldip  Singh,  the  then  sitting

Judge of the  Supreme  Court,  was  appointed  as  Chairman,  Commission  of

Inquiry under the Commissions of Inquiry  Act,  1952  (hereinafter  referred

to as ‘1952 Act’) to probe into alleged acts of  omissions  and  commissions

by Shri Ramakrishna Hegde, the former Chief Minister of Karnataka.  The  one

man Commission headed by  Justice  Kuldip  Singh  submitted  its  report  on

22.06.1990.=

In the contempt petition filed by Dr. Subramanian  Swamy

on 23.08.1990  under  Section  15  of  the  Contempt  of  Courts  Act,  1971

(hereinafter referred to as, “1971 Act”) against the then Editor  of  Indian

Express, Mr.  Arun  Shourie,

it  is  contended  that  the  editorial  is  a

scandalous statement in respect of a sitting Judge of the Supreme  Court  of

India and the judiciary.  It lowers the authority of this Court as  well  as

shakes public confidence in it and amounts  to  criminal  contempt  of  this

Court.

It is  submitted  that  unless  this  Court  acts  promptly  and  if

necessary, suo motu in the matter, sitting  Judges  would  be  helpless  and

unable to defend themselves,  and  in  the  process,  public  confidence  in

judges and the courts would be eroded.=

The  then   Attorney  General  Shri  Soli  Sorabjee  in  his  opinion  dated

27.08.1990 noted that  the  editorial  had,  prima  facie,  overstepped  the

limits of permissible criticism and the law of contempt, as was existing  in

the country, did not provide for truth as defence and, therefore, he  opined

that an explanation was called for and a notice could  be  issued  for  that

purpose.  In his view, the question

whether the contempt of a Commission  or

Commissioner appointed under the 1952 Act tantamounts  to  contempt  of  the

High Court or Supreme Court of which the Commissioner is member needs to  be

authoritatively settled by the Supreme Court in view of the reoccurrence  of

the issue. =

On 03.09.1990, the suo motu contempt  matterby the Hon’ble  the  Chief

Justice.

The proceeding of 03.09.1990 reads as under:

“In Re : Arun Shourie and Anr.

We have seen the editorial in  the  “Indian  Express”  of  August  13,

1990.  We have obtained the opinion of the Attorney General of India in  the

matter.  We consider that paragraphs 2 and 3 of the editorial tend  to  fall

within the  definition  of  ‘criminal  contempt’  in  Section  2(c)  of  the

Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.  =

The two principal questions that  arise  for  consideration  and

need our answer are as follows:

(i)          When  a  sitting  Supreme  Court  Judge  is  appointed   as   a

Commissioner by the Central Government under the 1952  Act,  does  he  carry

with him all the powers and jurisdiction of  the  Supreme  Court?  In  other

words, whether the functions which  are  discharged  by  the  Supreme  Court

Judge as a Commissioner are purely statutory functions  independent  of  the

jurisdiction vested in the Supreme Court?

(ii)         Whether  truth  can  be  pleaded   as   defence   in   contempt

proceedings?

Conclusion

 The Commission constituted   under the 1952 Act  is  a  fact

finding body to enable the  appropriate  Government  to  decide  as  to  the

course of action to  be  followed.   Such  Commission  is  not  required  to

adjudicate  upon  the  rights  of  the  parties  and  has  no   adjudicatory

functions.  The Government is not bound to  accept  its  recommendations  or

act upon its findings.  The mere fact that  the  procedure  adopted  by  the

Commission is of a legal character and it has the power to  administer  oath

will not clothe it with the status of Court.  That being so,  in  our  view,

the Commission appointed under the 1952 Act is not a Court for the  purposes

of Contempt of Courts Act even though it is  headed  by  a  sitting  Supreme

Court Judge.     Moreover, Section 10A of the 1952 Act leaves no  matter  of

doubt that the High  Court  has  been  conferred  with  the  power  to  take

cognizance of the complaint in respect of the acts calculated to  bring  the

Commission or any member thereof into disrepute.  Section 10A  provides  the

power of constructive contempt to the Commission by making  a  reference  to

the High Court with a right of appeal to  this  Court.  Our  answer  to  the

first question is, therefore, in the negative.

35.         In view  of  the  above  reasons,  the  contempt  petitions  are

dismissed and the contempt notices are discharged.

 

2014 July. Part – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41786

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