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Virendra Pawar v. State Of U.P. & Another - CRIMINAL MISC. WRIT PETITION No. 14159 of 2006 [2006] RD-AH 20183 (28 November 2006)


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Court No. 36

Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No. 14159 of 2006

Virendra Pawar Vs State of U.P. and others

Hon'ble Sushil Harkauli, J.

Hon'ble Pankaj Mithal, J.

The petitioner claims to be a correspondent of daily newspaper titled "CNN" news.  Admittedly, he published a news item for that newspaper on 21.9.2006. Copy of that news item has been enclosed as Annexure-1 to this writ petition. Apparently, the petitioner was given a show cause notice by the District Judge/Officer In charge of the Registrary of Saharanpur District Court in Inquiry No. 9 of 2006. By the impugned notice dated 7.11.2006 the said Judicial Officer has required the petitioner to give his further explanation if any on the next date i.e. 18.11.2006 with regard to two actions which appear to be proposed as below:-

The first proposed action is taking of cognizance with regard to the alleged offences under section 228/500 IPC.  From the record before us, prima facie, neither of the two offences can be said to be made out by publication of article in the newspaper.  We, therefore, direct that no further action will be taken with regard to the proposed cognizance till further orders.

The other aspect on which explanation has been sought is that with regard to the proposed reference of the matter in criminal contempt.

We have examined the news item enclosed as Annexure-1.  We find it unfortunate that media, just in order to improve circulation, tried to get some news which is sensational or which can be portrayed to create sensation.  The main grievance of the article in the newspaper appears to be that national emblem in the district court Saharanpur is broken.  While this may have required the media to bring it to the notice of the authorities, or even to the notice of the public, we find that news article, without any justification whatsoever, tried to rope in the judges of the district court of Saharanpur by saying that all of them while saluting the national flag on the spot during flag hoisting on 15th August and 26th January, have "not been able to see" this damage to the national emblem. The news article does not even mention that any attempt was made by media to enquire about the correct situation from the officers of the Registry of the District Court, before publishing such a thing in the newspaper.  The news article has the potential to create an impression in the mind of its readers that the Judicial Officers are unconcerned about this damage to the national emblem. The actual position is that if there has

been any damage requiring repair or replacement to any property of the district court, funds for the same are required to be sanctioned by the State Government.  The funds which are sanctioned by the government in the budget are ear-marked for specific purposes.  Other than the budget the judges of the district court have no funds available with them to carry out the work of repair or replacement.

In our opinion prima facie there was no justification for involving the judges of Saharanpur district court in this kind of controversy.

More importantly we would like to point out that media should realize that judges are not in a position to reply to newspapers by giving clarifications or justification.  In our country it was a culture that unarmed persons were never assaulted.  Basically, purpose of criminal contempt jurisdiction is also to ensure that no attack takes place against the judges in view of their inability to defend themselves on the public platform.

We hope that media will take these observations into account when determining their future course of action.

Coming back to the issue, despite indiscretions committed by the alleged contemners, large number of matters are frequently over looked by the judges.  Whether this matter will or will not be referred as criminal contempt after hearing the petitioner's explanation or apology as the petitioner may chose to give, is not yet decided and we do not find any reason why the petitioner should not give his reply by way of justification or apology in response to the notice.  We have no doubt if regrets are expressed, in absence of proper justification, it will be considered in proper perspective.

In the circumstances, the learned A.G.A. may file a counter affidavit within one month.  The petition will be listed immediately thereafter.




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