Keshav Singh vs Speaker, Legislative Assembly

AIR 1965 All 349

1. Facts

The case revolves around Keshav Singh, a Gorakhpur resident who used to work for the socialist party. One day he and his two friends published a pamphlet which was against the Congress MLA, Narsingh Narain Pandey. The pamphlet circulated all over the region defamed Narsingh Narain and labelled him a corrupt politician. When the pamphlet came at the discretion of the speaker of the legislative assembly, Mr. Pandey contended that Keshav Singh’s act harmed his dignity and misused the privilege of parliament. After this Keshav Singh with his fellow friends was charged with contempt of the court, all three people were called to the Lucknow assembly for answering the actions done by them. Leaving Keshav Singh, both his colleagues reached further into the assembly and apologized for their actions. Later the petitioner replied that he did not have enough money for traveling from Gorakhpur to Lucknow. Further, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly issued a warrant for the arrest of Keshav Singh, who refused to answer questions and face the Speaker. After reprimands, the Assembly passed a resolution that Keshav Singh be sentenced to seven days imprisonment for committing contempt of the House and for his misbehavior towards the House. He was taken to the Jail on the same day and imprisoned there.

2. Issues raised:

The following issues were raised in the Keshav Singh case are as follows:

1. Whether the detention of the petitioner violates Article 22(2) of the constitution?

2. Whether the legislative assembly has the criminal jurisdiction to punish anyone for its contempt?

3. Whether the act of the legislative assembly in punishing the petitioner was malicious?

3. Contention of the Parties:


According to the contention of the petitioner,  the house does not have any authority to punish someone under criminal jurisdiction. The act of the House of convicting the petitioner violated his rights under Articles 21, 22(1) as well as his natural rights. Even if the act done by the House was constitutional still it violated Article 22(2) of the Constitution as he was offered no opportunity to defend himself after he was reprimanded. Thus, the action of the House was ill-intentioned and out of political animosity.


Respondent argued on the pertinent fact that Article 194(3) of the Constitution gives the legislative assembly power to punish the person who violates the rules under the criminal jurisdiction. They also said that the petitioner charged with contempt belonging to a political party rather than the house’s majority party is no proof that the assembly acted in bad faith.


In the judgment, it was held that the detention of the petitioner was not illegal In its ruling, the court determined that Keshav Singh’s detention was not unlawful; as a result, the petitioner’s appeal was denied. The court ruled that while any imprisonment is inherently illegal, the person who authorized it may provide a defense. According to the terms of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act of 1971, the District Magistrate in this case had the power to order the detention of a person and issued a warrant for their detention.

The appeal was ruled to be invalid by the court, and the petitioner could only win if he could prove his claims. The petitioner must provide evidence to support their claim that the detention was unlawful because it cannot initially be assumed that it was. The petitioner had failed to provide evidence, the judge remarked, therefore the petitioner’s claim that the detention was unlawful was likewise denied by the court since there was insufficient evidence to back it up. The petitioner had not presented any proof to show that the detention was unlawful, according to the court. The petitioner had been brought before the magistrate within 24 hours of his imprisonment, therefore the court further determined that the petitioner’s rights under Article 22 of the Indian Constitution had not been breached. The court determined that the detention order was supported by legal justifications and that Before deciding to order the custody, the District Magistrate had given it some thought.

The petitioner had not contested the legality of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act of 1971, which was used to authorize the imprisonment, the court further noted. The petitioner’s challenge to the Act’s legitimacy could not be taken into consideration, the court ruled, because the Supreme Court had maintained the Act’s legality in several decisions.

The Supreme Court’s decision is supported by the idea that the three branches of a democratic state—legislative, executive, and judicial—should function together. The Court emphasized how crucial it is for these three organs to function together as a unit. A High Court Judge cannot be held accountable by the House for anything done while performing his duties since Article 211 of the Constitution prohibits the State Legislature from debating the behavior of a High Court Judge in the Assembly. Additionally, the Supreme Court decided that Articles 105(3) and 194(3) should not be used to restrict the ability of citizens to petition the courts or the ability of advocates to participate in that process. The legislature cannot issue a warrant to the judge and call him in the legislative assembly. In India, the Parliament and State Legislatures can never assert such a privilege due to the existence of the Fundamental Rights and the doctrine of judicial review, in particular Articles 32 and 226 that give the Supreme Court and High Courts authority and impose a duty on them to uphold the Fundamental Rights. As a result, a court may view an unsaid House warrant as a judicially imposed sanction for contempt. Through the Reference to the President, the SC aimed to recognize that the House has the authority to punish for contempt or violating its privileges in addition to that. Judicial independence would be significantly threatened if a House asserted the right to scrutinize a judge’s actions, but the House also has the authority to penalize for contempt or violating its privilege. The Committee on Privileges is now looking into the matter and hearing from the petitioner before rendering a determination.


The petitioner’s appeal was denied after the court ruled that Keshav Singh’s detention was not unlawful. The court further noted that the petitioner had failed to prove that the detention was unlawful and that it was not supported by any evidence in front of the court. bad faith. The court further determined that the detention order was justified and that the petitioner’s rights under Article 22 of the Indian Constitution had not been violated. bad faith. The court further determined that the detention order was justified and that the petitioner’s rights under Article 22 of the Indian Constitution had not been violated.