CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS FORM
“Whereas on the 6th April 1919 we published in Young India a private letter written by Mr. Kennedy, District Judge of Ahmedabad, to the Registrar of the High Court of Justice at Bombay and whereas on the same date we also published certain comments on the said letter and whereas it has been pointed out to us that pending certain proceedings in the said High Court in connection with the said letter we were not justified in publishing the said letter or in commenting thereon, now we do hereby express our regret and apologize to the Hon’ble the Chief Justice and Judges of the said High Court for the publication of the said letter and the comments thereon.”
The Advocate – General said that he submitted with some confidence that it was an apology which the opponent should have published. A milder form of apology, he thought, it was difficult to conceive. Mr. Gandhi, however, did not publish the apology and took counsel’s opinion and addressed a letter to the Registrar expressing his inability to apologize. Before the receipt of this letter a notice was ordered by the contempt on which the proceedings were based. The text of Mr. Gandhi’s letter dated 11th December 1919, is as follows:
“With reference to your letter regarding the publication of the letter of the District Judge of Ahmedabad in the matter of Satyagrahi lawyers I beg to state that I have now consulted legal friends and given much anxious consideration to the apology suggested by His Lordship the Chief Justice. But I regret to state that I find myself unable to publish the suggested apology. The document in question came into my possession in the ordinary course and being of great public importance I decided to publish and comment upon it. In doing so I performed, in my humble opinion, a useful public duty at a time when there was great tension and when even the Judiciary was affected by the popular prejudice. I need hardly say that I had no desire whatever to prejudge the issues that Their Lordships had to decide.
I am anxious to assure His Lordship the Chief Justice that at the time I decided to publish the document in question, I had fully in mind the honour of journalism as also the fact that I was a member of the Bombay Bar and as such expected to be aware of the traditions thereof. But thinking of my action in the light of what has happened I am unable to say that in similar circumstances I would act differently from what I did when I decided to publish and comment upon Mr. Kennedy’s letter. Much therefore as I would have liked to act upon His Lordship I shall respectfully suffer the penalty that Their Lordships may be pleased to impose upon me.
I beg to apologize for the delay caused in replying to your letter. I have been touring continuously in the Punjab and not likely to be free before the beginning of the next month.”
A few days before the hearing of the rule Mr. Gandhi addressed a letter to the Registrar dated 27th February with which he enclosed copies of statements which he and Mr. Desai desired to submit before the Court.