Reached Daily Limit?

Explore a new way of legal research!

Click Here
Indian Case Summary

C. K. Daphtary & Ors vs O. P. Gupta & Ors on 19 March, 1971 – Case Summary

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In the case of C. K. Daphtary & Ors vs O. P. Gupta & Ors on 19 March, 1971, the Supreme Court of India was confronted with a significant issue of contempt of court. The case was heard by a bench consisting of S.M. Sikri (CJ), J.M. Shelat, C.A. Vaidyialingam, A.N. Grover, and A.N. Ray.

Facts of the Case

The State of Uttar Pradesh had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a High Court judgment that deemed the dismissal of the first respondent, O. P. Gupta, from service as invalid. The appeal was heard by two judges of the Supreme Court, and the junior judge delivered the judgment on behalf of the Court, allowing the appeal. Following this, O. P. Gupta wrote, printed, published, and circulated a pamphlet containing scurrilous criticism of the senior judge, using terms like “dishonest judgment,” “open dishonesty,” and “utter dishonesty.” He also alleged that the senior judge had asked the junior judge to deliver the judgment and that the junior judge had written what the senior judge told him to write.

Issues Raised

The main issue raised in this case was whether the act of O. P. Gupta constituted contempt of court. The Court had to consider whether the existing law of contempt violated the freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The Court also had to decide whether evidence could be permitted to justify allegations amounting to contempt.

Court’s Observations and Judgment

The Court observed that under Article 129 of the Constitution, it had the power to punish for contempt of itself, and under Article 143(2), it could investigate any such contempt. The Court also noted that it was the guardian of fundamental rights and would not enforce any law that imposed unreasonable restrictions on the right of freedom of speech.

The Court held that the pamphlet constituted gross contempt of the Court. It noted that the first respondent had admitted that he assisted in drafting an impeachment motion against the senior judge and that the pamphlet was ostensibly prepared for that purpose. The Court also observed that the first respondent’s apology and avowed respect for the junior judge were not genuinely intended.

The Court concluded that the pamphlet constituted gross contempt of the Court and that the first respondent deserved a heavy sentence. However, considering that such contempt of the Court was rare, the Court imposed a lenient sentence of two months of simple imprisonment. The Court also warned that any such future contempt would not be dealt with so leniently.