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After finding a writ petitioner guilty of contempt, the Calcutta High Court ordered him to plant 50 trees as punishment in lieu of imprisonment.
The High Court initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against the petitioner after he had made scandalous allegations against its sitting judges and former Chief Justices.
“…the writ petitioner has made scandalous allegations against Judges of this court that are neither supported by any document, nor are borne out of the records of this writ petition. Some sitting Judges have also being made parties to the writ petition. They have not been served. Scandalous and unprecedented allegations have also been made against two former Chief Justices of this Court.”
The matter eventually came before the Bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha. The order passed by the judge notes,
“The instant writ petition displays disgraceful, unparliamentary, unwarranted, contumacious, unexpected and absolutely unacceptable language, by a person; claiming to be an educated citizen of this country, being used against the Judges of the court below and Judges of this Court, past and present.”
The main petition concerned a dispute with a singer from a foreign jurisdiction, with whom the petitioner claimed to have had a contractual relationship. After the singer failed to respond to lower court proceedings initiated by the petitioner, an arrest warrant was issued against him.
Even as the case proceedings were pending, the petitioner made allegations that there was tampering in the lower court records, particularly with respect to a change in the name of the judge concerned. Further, he also alleged that the Magistrate had threatened and abused him in court.
However, the High Court administration found no substance in these allegations. The District judge who took over the case also found no merit in the accusations.
Nevertheless, the petitioner persisted with his complaint. Among other objectionable comments made by the petitioner in this regard, the High Court order records the following:
“…It reveals that District Judge and C.J.M.’s Judiciary proper education shattered by idiocy and ignorance, that’s why higher authority always trying to put them into right path, but they are like dog’s tail, straightened but bend again when released. Street dogs are interfering the ceremonial house without invitation…“
Further, the petitioner went on to accuse High Court judges as well, including two former Chief Justices. He stated that they were illiterate when it comes to the law and the Constitution and that they had encouraged the whole crime.
An extract of the petitioner’s plea, as recorded in the High Court’s order, states,
“…the petitioner states that the continuous misdeed, ill-deed, ill-attitude, fraudulent activity, conspiracy spread from upper to lower level (on and on nexus relation between Hon’ble High Court and Lower Court) and that will ashame any noble country, put the judiciary into shameless level. (sic)”
Plant trees in lieu of imprisonment for Contempt of Court
The Court eventually found that the deliberately made objectionable submissions by the petitioner amounted to contempt of court. As noted in the order,
“The names of the Judges of this Court, past and present, taken in the petition and wild allegations of personal bias alleged are totally unsubstantiated. These allegations are a matter of grave and serious concern and must be suitably addressed with a view to protect the dignity and honour of this court…
…the allegations made by the petitioner against the subordinate Judges and Judges of this Court, past and present, as also other Officials in bad taste, scandalous, deliberately and willfully contumacious. Statements in pleadings of this nature, have the consequence of maligning the high dignity of this court in the eyes of the public at large.”
In view of the same, the Court initially proposed that one-month imprisonment be imposed on the petitioner for his wilful and deliberate contempt. However, after the petitioner expressed regret and tendered an unconditional apology, the Court directed the petitioner to plant fifty trees as punishment.
“He shall, therefore, stand sentenced to five days simple imprisonment that shall remain suspended. In lieu of undergoing sentence, the petitioner shall plant 50 trees in and around Berhampore area after the completion of his daughter’s school examinations. The apology of the petitioner is expected by way of affidavit.”
During the course of hearing, the Court was also informed that the petitioner’s advocate, Abhijit Chakraborty, had been deliberately egging on the petitioner to make the contemptuous submissions, although he denied the same in open Court. However, in response, the Court observed,
“This Court does not wish to go into the conduct of Mr. Abhijit Chakraborty (2) advocate except to remind him of the code of conduct under the Bar Council of India Act 1926.“