The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently held that making a baseless allegation against a Judicial Officer would not attract the least amount of sentence, and disposed-off criminal proceedings by awarding a sentence of imprisonment along with a fine against the Respondent.

While referring to the judgment of Constitutional Bench of the Apex Court in Baradakanta Mishra vs. High Court of Orissa [(1974) 1 SCC 374] and the definition provided under Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Vishal Mishra observed that “Even an attempt to scandalize or lower the authority of a Court falls under the definition of ‘criminal contempt”.

Senior Advocate Anil Khare appeared for the Respondent.

In a nutshell, a reference had been sent before the High Court by Additional District Judge, Bareili to hold contempt proceedings under Section 15(2) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 for registration of a civil as well as criminal contempt against the accused Krishna Kumar Raghuvanshi for flouting the order dated July 11, 2019 passed by the court. The ‘court’ decreed the appeal based on the terms of the settlement between the parties. Later, one Yashpal Singh Raghuvanshi made an application before the court that the Respondent has violated the terms of the decree and after recording, the Court observed that the Respondent have violated the terms. The Respondents filed a complaint before the High Court against the court alleging misuse of his office and adopting corrupt practices. The High Court took cognizance and held that the Respondents had violated the terms of the decree and Respondent Krishna Kumar Raghuvanshi levelled baseless allegations against the court. Hence, the criminal contempt had been registered suo-moto against Krishna Kumar Raghuvanshi.

After perusing the facts and the letter of complaint filed by the Respondent against S.P.S. Bundela, Additional District Judge, Bareli, the Bench observed that “By the words, as pointed out hereinabove, an attempt is made by the respondent to scandalize and lower the majesty of the Court and also the Judicial Officer.

The Bench further observed that such reckless allegation of misuse of power falls within the definition of ‘criminal contempt’ and thus liability arises under Section 2(c) of the Act of 1971.

Thus, the Bench sentenced the Respondent to undergo simple imprisonment for ten days along with a fine of Rs. Two thousand which is to be paid before the Registry of High Court within seven days from the date of receipt of a copy of the judgment, failing which, he was directed to undergo simple imprisonment for a further period of ten days.

Cause Title: In reference (suo motu) v. Shri Krishna Kumar Raghuvanshi S.

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