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Pandit M.S.M. Sharma v. Sri Sri Krishna Sinha & Ors

Court

Supreme Court of India

Case No.

122 of 1958

Citation

1960 SC 1186; 1969 AIR 395; 1959 SCR Suppl.(1) 806.

Petitioner

Pandit MSM Sharma

Respondent

Sri Sri Krishna Sinha & Ors.

Date of Judgment

12/12/1958.

Bench

Chief Justice Sudhi Ranjan Das.
Justice Natwarlal H. Bhagwati.
Justice Bhuvneshwar P. Sinha.
Justice K. Subbarao.
Justice K.N. Wanchoo.

Facts

The applicant was the Editor of the Patna newspaper ‘Search Light’. There was a dispute in the Legislative Assembly of Bihar when one of the oldest members of the Assembly, M.P.N. Singh directed a speech censuring the Bihar administration, which the Chief Minister, Dr. S.K. Sinha, ran on 30th August 1957. Singh also quoted specific occasions of favoritism. The Speaker of the Assembly grasped that a part of the speech was offensive and directed it to be eradicated. However, no particular direction was designated to the Press. On 31st May, ’Search Light’ the daily newspaper published what had ensued in the Assembly. A prerogative motion was proceeded in the Assembly and cited to the Committee of Privileges. There was no polling and no time restriction was prescribed for the presentation of the investigation report, which was mentioned in the Rules of the House. According to Rule 215, if no time boundaries are endorsed, the report was to be presented within a month. After one year, on 18th August 1958, the applicant got a notice to reveal the cause, that is why no measure should be taken against him for the violation of privilege.

Issues

  1. Could the British House of Commons utterly interdict the publication of its events or proceedings of such parts of them, as had been aimed to be eradicated?
  2. Presuming that the British House of Commons possessed such strength and inevitably the State Legislature also had such privileges under Article 194 clause (3) of the Constitution, could the rights of the Legislature beneath that Article persuade over the fundamental rights pledged under Article 19 (1)(a)?

Contentions of the Petitioner

The bulletin emanated by the Secretary of the Assembly and the suggested measures of the Committee breached the freedom of speech of the petitioner under Article 19 (1) (a) and it also qualifies as the shielding of his personal freedom and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. As an editor of a newspaper, the applicant was authorized to the Freedom of Press. The notice presented to the petitioner by the Privileges Committee of the Assembly of Bihar was illicit and unlawful. The Constitution of the Privileges Committee is illegitimate as Bihar’s Chief Minister Dr. S. K. Sinha himself became the Chairman of the Committee.

Contentions of the Respondent

The offenders leaned on Article 194 clause (3) of the Constitution of India. Additionally, they argued that in the British House of Commons, the procès-verbal of the Assembly could not be printed. A speech, portions of which were conducted to be obliterated, cannot be published under any situation. Alike, the publication was an incomprehensible violation of the privileges and rights of the Assembly.

Obiter Dicta

Article 194 clause (3) granted privileges, powers, and immunities that were not explicit in Article 19. Liberty and freedom of the printing press were inferred in freedom of expression and speech, permitted to the Indian citizens under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. At the beginning of the Constitution of India, the British House of Commons possessed the right to interdict the publication of paradoxically fair reports of the arguments and debates & events of the house. Thus, they also possessed the privilege to intercept the publication of imprecise or expunged genres of the debates and the events. The Assembly of Bihar had not furnished any law administering its powers or privileges.

It would be inappropriate to argue that the powers and privileges afforded by Article 194 and Article 105 to the Parliament and the State Assemblies must capitulate to the fundamental rights under Article 19 (1)(a). The provisos of Article 19(1)(a) must capitulate to the provisos of Article 194(1). Article 194(3) scrutinized the rules, enacted by the Bihar Legislative Assembly in the exertion of its powers under Article 208 of the Constitution, which constituted the privileges, power, and immunities of the Assembly. Any seizure of the personal liberty of the petitioner evolving from the parliamentary proceedings shall corresponding to the procedure established by law.

Judgment

Article 19(1)(a) shall be of no aid to the petitioner. Perhaps there might not be any violation of the rights of the petitioner to his liberty and life under Article 21 as well. However, the court directed that according to Article 194 clause (3) of the Indian constitution, the state assembly of Bihar had equivalent privileges, powers, and immunities as compared to the house of common at the dawn of the constitution. Consequently, the assembly possessed the power to interdict the applicant from publishing any portion of proceedings that was by order of the speaker, to be obliterated. The petitioner contended that Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution predominated over Article 194(3) of the Constitution which signifies that Article 194(3) is subjected to Article 19(1)(a). The court declined this argument on the grounds that the vernacular of Article 194 put through only “clause (1) explicitly to other provisos of the Constitution”. Furthermore, “clause (2) to (4) [of Article 194] had not been expressed to be under the Article. Consequently, it can be presumed that the makers of the constitution did not mean to concern those clauses to other provisos of the Constitution.” Hence, Article 194(3) is not concerned with Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

Therefore, the applicant crashed in resisting that the rights of the Bihar Legislative Assembly were subject to his fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. The applicant challenged that Article 194(3) is in breach of his fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a). The Court expressed that a statute proceeded by a “State Legislature in the execution of earlier bit of Article 194(3) will not be a statute in implementation of constitutional rights, but will be one created in implementation of its ordinary legislative powers. Therefore, if such a statute curtails or abridges any of the fundamental rights, it will violate the provisos of Article 13 and it will be revoked.” However, the powers, prerogatives, or immunities of the Legislative Assembly bestowed by the later part of Article 194(3) preferred not to be revoked even if it is in conflict with fundamental rights since “Article 194(3) is the element of the Constitution and as extreme as Part III of the Constitution.” Considering the clash between Article 19(1)(a) and Article 194(3) of the Constitution, the bench opined that “the idea of euphonious construction must be embraced and so construed, the provisos of Article 19(1)(a), which are common, must capitulate to Article 194(3) which are special”.

Rationale

Simultaneously, the Assembly of Bihar had not enacted any law, considering its potential and proceedings the authorities of the British House of Commons were relevant to the Assembly. At the same time, Article 194(3) and Article 105(3) be considered upright in the same sovereign position as the provisos of the Constitution (part Ill) and could not be found clashing by Article 13; the object of euphonious construction must be embraced. Article 194 clause (3) of the Constitution is a peculiar clause. The freedom of the printing press in India glided from the freedom of expression and speech of the Indian citizens. No peculiar right is affixed to the press.

Conclusion

After the predominance of the court, the verdict in the case endorsed above, the Assembly was annulled several times. The Privileges’ Committee overhauled and lately endowed a new notice to the petitioner. The applicant proceeded to the Court looking around to resume the same disputes and arguments. The court carried that the concept of res judicata solicited, and the court’s decree could not be reopened. The decision is irrevocable to the petitioner.

References

  1. Constitution of India.
  2. Romesh Thappar v. The State of Madras, (1950) SCR 594.
  3. Brij Bhushan v. The State of Delhi, (1950) SCR 605.
  4. Express Newspaper Ltd. v. The Union of India (1959) SCR 12.
  5. Ramji Lal v. Income Tax Officer, Mohindergarh (1951) SCRN127.
  6. Laxmanappa Hanumantappa v. UOI (1955) 1 SCR 769.

This article is written by Ashmita Dhumas, who has completed BA LLB from Agra College and is doing a diploma in
Corporate Law from Enhelion.

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