Cognizance in a court of law: In some of the cases, cognizance is being taken, the matters are pending before the jurisdictional magistrate, the summons was issued to some of the accused and in some of the cases, accused persons appeared and enlarged on bail. In some of the cases, pleas of the accused have been recorded and some of the cases were set down for evidence.
Suo moto cognizance by a high court: When a case or a matter is taken over by a High Court or the Supreme Court under its control and initiates proceedings against the same, it is known as a “Suo moto cognizance”.
Allahabad High Court in Ravi Kiran Jain Senior Advocate vs Vinod Mehta Editor-In-Chief Outlook & Others (CONTEMPT APPLICATION (CRIMINAL) No. – 17 of 2010) learned bench led by HONORABLE JUSTICE IMTIYAZ MURTAZA and HONOURABLE JUSTICE NAHEDA ARA MOONIS opined that the case should be treated as one where the Court has taken suo moto action in the matter, and described as RE: In the matter of contempt.
The petitioner, a Senior Advocate practicing in this High Court, has filed this petition seeking suo motu cognizance to punish the respondents under the Contempt of Courts Act 1971 for their acts of scandalizing the Court by making reckless allegations against the Chief Justice of this Court, imputing motives to him for passing administrative orders favoring Smt. Mayawati, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, and making other pejorative allegations.
FACTS OF THE CASE: The matter has its genesis in a weekly article Magazine “Out Look” which has been published. In this article, the Chief Justice of this Court F.I. Rebello has been bracketed with certain High Court Judges, who have been aspersed upon to have detracted from the judicial propriety. The essential allegations which are said to be contemptuous, ascribe motives to the Chief Justice for taking away the case of sanction for prosecution from the Bench of Justice Pradeep Kant and Justice Shabihul Hasnain in the Taj Corridor matter at the end of the hearing of the case after his meeting with the Chief Minister Sushri Mayawati, for conferring an advantage on her. There was no specific order taking away the case, and the administrative orders bifurcating Criminal PILS from Civil PILs, and holding that PILs seeking prosecution sanctions would be cognizable by the criminal PIL Bench which resulted in the case being taken away from the Bench, was regarded as a colorable exercise of power by Chief Justice Rebello.
COURTS OBSERVATION: The court propounded that even if the petition is preferred by a private person, the Court has jurisdiction to take Suo moto cognizance of the matter in its contempt jurisdiction if it considers it to be a fit case for taking cognizance. It is further clarified in the law report that such suo moto action may be taken only in rare cases. From the above reasoning it is clear, that even in the absence of a motion or consent in writing of the Advocate General, suo motu action for contempt can be initiated by the Court if it considers it to be a fit case.
JUDGEMENT: Court decided that as previously stated, the petitioner’s name should be removed from the list of parties, and the case should be classified as one in which the Court has taken suo moto action and labeled RE: In the matter of contempt by the weekly magazine OUTLOOK. The Registrar General of the Allahabad High Court and the Government Advocate will also receive copies of the notice.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY RIYA DWIVEDI