This Case Summary is written by Navya Venkat. She is an intern under Content Team Legal Thirst.
The whole case talks about contempt of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly. The assembly attempted to enforce the claim by ordering the arrest and detention of two Allahabad High court judges because they had heard Keshav Singh’s writ petition of Habeus corpus and had issued an interim order of release on bail after the petitioner had been arrested on a warrant issued by the speaker of the assembly.
FACTS OF THE CASE
Keshav Singh, the petitioner was a resident of Gorakhpur, he used to work in the Socialist Party. One day, with the support of two of his friends, he printed and published a pamphlet about a congress MLA, Narsing Narin Pandey. The pamphlet clearly disowned Narsing Pandey and cleared that he is a corrupt politician. The pamphlet circulated all over the area of the Lucknow Legislature Assembly. When the pamphlet, came into the view of the speaker of the legislative assembly, he claimed that the pamphlet clearly violated the privilege and dignity of Narsing Narin Pandey. And this clearly shows the contempt of the Assembly. Keshav Singh and his colleagues, who supported him were ordered to summon before the Lucknow assembly to give answers for their actions. Two of Keshav’s colleagues were summoned, but Keshav didn’t go alleging as it costs him a lot to travel from Gorakhpur to Lucknow. Keshav Singh was arrested and brought to the assembly. Keshav Singh had written a letter to the speaker to strike off his arrest warrant and claimed that all the facts are accurate in the pamphlet.
ISSUES BEFORE THE COURT
A warrant was issued by the speaker of the legislative assembly, Mr. Verma directing the District Jail, Lucknow to take Keshav Singh under custody for the period of seven days.
An advocate on the behalf of Keshav Singh presented a writ petition of Habeus corpus under SECTION 491 of Code of Criminal procedure, 1898 as well as under ARTICLE 226 of the constitution.
ARTICLE 491 – It briefs about a breach of contract to attend to and supply the wants of a helpless person.
ARTICLE 226 – Power of High court to issue orders in the matter of Writs.
The petition which was filed by Keshav Singh claims that his imprisonment in jail was unconstitutional and Keshav Singh was not given an opportunity to defend himself. According to the appeal, Keshav Singh was ordered to be imprisoned after receiving the reprimand which rendered the order of imprisonment unconstitutional without any authority.
The house proceed to take action against the two learned judges who passed the order, as well as against Keshav Singh and his Advocate. The house again passed an order to Keshav Singh to summon in assembly and both the judges should be brought in custody before the house.
The two learned judges approached Allahabad Highcourt with a separate Writ petition under ARTICLE 226 of the Constitution. The petition completely claimed that the house resolution was completely unlawful and violated ARTICLE 211 of the constitution.
ARTICLE 211 – No discussion shall take place in the legislature of a state with respect to the conduct of any judge of the Supreme court and High court in the discharge of his/ her duties.
When the warrant was issued by the legislative assembly seeking both the learned judges to represent in the assembly the President decided to use his powers under ARTICLE 143 (1) of the constitution.
ARTICLE 143 (1) – Power of the president to consult the Supreme court.
ARGUMENTS OF PETITIONER
Keshav Singh filed a petition in the High court alleging the legislative assembly of Lucknow has no criminal jurisdiction and no authority to punish anyone who disobeys it. Even if the house had such authority the petitioner’s imprisonment is unconstitutional as it violates ARTICLE 22 (2).
The petitioner’s conviction by the house was in breach of ARTICLE 21 and ARTICLE 22(2). The intention of the house was ill-intentioned and motivated by political animosity.
ARGUMENTS OF RESPONDENT
ARTICLE 194(3), gives the right of criminal jurisdiction and it can punish those who violate it. It gives the power to the legislative assembly to punish them.
The personal liberty of the petitioner has been violated in accordance with legal procedures.
The fact that the person charged with contempt belongs to a political party other than the house’s majority party is no proof that the house acted in bad faith.
The Supreme court referred to so many cases and precedents across the world in detail and finally came to certain conclusions.
- It was declared that filing the petition was not an illegal act, so neither the judges nor Keshav Singh was in contempt for filing the petition.
- The full bench had the authority to issue the interim orders.
- A judge who hears a person petition against a house order does not commit contempt of the house, nor does the house have the authority to take action.
The petition for bail was filed in Allahabad High Court after the supreme sent its suggestion to the President through the reference.
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