The Jharkhand High Court closed criminal contempt proceedings initiated by a Single Judge against the Advocate General and the Additional Advocate General.

The court observed that without framing a charge and affording an opportunity to them to explain their conduct, a reference under Section 17 of the Contempt of Courts Act for registering a criminal contempt is not maintainable.

A criminal contempt proceeding was registered against the Advocate General and Additional Advocate General following the order passed by the Single Judge while delivering a judgment.

The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Shree Chandrashekhar and Justice Ambuj Nath observed, “We are however faced with a situation where the learned Single Judge did not record the words and utterances of the opposite parties in the Court on 13th August 2021; and, a charge was not framed and put to the opposite parties even on 1st September 2021. Just for the sake of fullness, we may record that no charge based on the facts recorded in the judgment dated 1st September 2021 can be framed now to proceed with the present criminal contempt proceeding. Furthermore, assuming that there was a charge framed against the opposite parties on the basis of the facts recorded in the aforesaid judgment because the words spoken by the opposite parties are not recorded in the judgment dated 1st September 2021 the present reference could not have been adjudicated and decided. Simply put, without framing a charge and affording an opportunity to the opposite parties to explain their conduct, a reference under section 17 of the Contempt of Courts Act for registering a criminal contempt proceeding against the opposite parties is not maintainable.”

Senior Advocate Vijoy Pratap Singh appeared for the Petitioner whereas Senior Advocate Umesh Prasad Singh appeared for the Other parties.

During the hearing of a writ petition in a murder case, the Advocate General informed the Single Judge Court that he heard the petitioner saying that “the matter was going to be allowed 200%”. On the next day of the hearing, the Advocate General asked the Court not to hear the matter, the Single Judge took the incident seriously and asked the AG to put his statement on the affidavit which he refused.

The Single Judge, therefore, held that there was no need to recuse from hearing the case, on a mere statement made by him. While delivering the judgment in the writ petition the Single Judge took cognizance of the conduct and initiated suo moto contempt proceedings.

The Court said, “The writ Court has recorded that after Mr. Rajiv Ranjan made the aforementioned statement, Mr. Sachin Kumar came online and vehemently submitted that this Court ought not to hear the matter and made submissions in such a language that ought not to have been used in the Court. In paragraph no. 92, the writ Court further recorded that the opposite parties bullied the Court and behaved in a manner that the Court felt they were trying to threaten the Court. The learned Amicus submitted that the dignity of the Court is required to be maintained in all situations and an advocate in no circumstances is expected to engage in a verbal brawl with the Court”

Per Contra, the AG and Add. AG, opposite parties herein submitted that they were very respectful towards the Single Judge. But the Court observed that the matters of judicial record were unquestionable, and facts and statements recorded by a court in an order or a judgment are considered correct.

The Court also held, “Sub-section (3) provides that every motion or reference made under this section shall specify the content of which the person charged is alleged to be guilty. The Rules framed by the High Court of Jharkhand under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 are provided under Rule 387 of the High Court of Jharkhand Rules. Under Rule 395, it is provided that the Court may in appropriate cases before initiating the proceeding for contempt against the contemnor issue notice to such contemnor directing him to show cause as to why a proceeding for the contempt is not initiated against him. The criminal contempt proceedings are quasi-criminal in nature and the burden and standard of proof required are the same as in a criminal case. Therefore, the High Court can invoke powers and jurisdiction vested in it under Article 215 of the Constitution but such a jurisdiction has to be exercised in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law. This is common knowledge that the exercise of the powers under contempt jurisdiction ensues serious consequences and the Court exercising the contempt jurisdiction is required to record its satisfaction about the contumacious conduct.”

The Court also said that the conduct of an advocate in the Court cannot be like that of “the man on the top of a Clapham Omnibus” and he must maintain a respectful attitude towards the court, bearing in mind the dignity of the court.

The Division Bench relied on the judgments of the Apex Court in R.S. Sujatha v. State of Karnataka (2011), Shri Baradakanta Mishra v. Registrar of Orissa High Court (1974), J.R. Parashar v. Prashant Bhushan(2001) and Sahdeo v. State of U.P. (2010).

Accordingly, the Court closed the contempt case, as it contravened the provisions under Section 15(3) of the Contempt of Courts Act and rules therein.

Cause Title: Court On Its Own Motion v. Rajiv Ranjan and Anr.


Petitioner: Senior Advocate Vijoy Pratap Singh and Advocate Ramit Satender

Opposite Parties: Senior Advocate Umesh Prasad Singh, Advocate Piyush Chitresh, Surabhi and Ravi Prakash Mishra.

Click here to read/download the Judgment