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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Contempt of court arose when - To hold the respondents or anyone of them liable for contempt this Court has to arrive at a conclusion that the respondents have wilfully disobeyed the order of the Court. The exercise of contempt jurisdiction is summary in nature and an adjudication of the liability of the alleged contemnor for wilful disobedience of the Court is normally made on admitted and undisputed facts.

               published in                                             

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                       CONTEMPT PETITION NO.3 OF 2012
                     CONTEMPT PETITION NO.6 & 7 OF 2009
                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 503 of 2007

Noor Saba                                    ...   Petitioner (s)


Anoop Mishra & Anr.                     ...  Respondent (s)

                               J U D G M E N T


1.    The contempt petitioner had filed a writ petition under Article 32  of
the Constitution [W.P.(C) No. 503 of 2007] raising a  plea  that  after  her
husband had passed away in the year 1980, while serving  as  the  Headmaster
in Government Public School, Rampur under the Uttar  Pradesh  Basic  Shiksha
Parishad, a meagre and inadequate amount of family pension  was  being  paid
to her leaving her in a  dire  state  of  penury  and  distress.   The  writ
petition in  question  was  filed  before  this  Court  even  while  a  writ
proceeding on the same issue was pending before the  Allahabad  High  Court.
Notwithstanding the above, taking into account the  peculiar  facts  of  the
case,  particularly,  the  distress  that  the  petitioner  claimed  to   be
suffering from, this Court entertained the writ  petition  and  disposed  of
the same by the order dated 29.7.2008 in the following terms :

        “Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, we direct
        that the family pension of the petitioner shall  be  determined  in
        terms of Government  Order  dated  24.2.1989  and  other  necessary
        orders issued from time to time revising the family pension.   This
        exercise shall be done within a period of three months from  today.
        After the family pension is determined  in  terms  of  the  various
        Government Orders on the subject  and  the  amount  of  arrears  be
        calculated,  the  same  shall  be  paid  to  the  petitioner  after
        deducting the payments already made to her  on  account  of  family
        pension.  With  the  abovesaid  direction,  the  writ  petition  is
        disposed of.  No order as to costs.” [Para 12]

2.    While disposing of the writ petition  in  the  above  terms  by  order
dated 29.7.2008, this Court had recorded certain facts which being  relevant
to the present proceedings are being noticed hereinafter.
       The  petitioner’s  husband  late  Masood  Umer  Khan  was   initially
appointed as an Assistant Teacher in the year 1959 and he  was  holding  the
post of Headmaster in the Government Public School, Rampur  when  he  passed
away on 5.4.1980.  The petitioner was granted family pension at the rate  of
Rs. 200/- per month which was later  revised  to  Rs.  425/-.   The  revised
amount was reduced to Rs. 375/-  per  month  and  an  attempt  was  made  to
recover the excess  amount  allegedly  overdrawn  by  the  petitioner.   The
aforesaid action of the State was challenged by the  petitioner  in  a  writ
proceeding before the Allahabad High Court which was, however, dismissed  on
4.3.2005.  Aggrieved, an intra-court  appeal  was  filed  against  the  said
order dated  4.3.2005  in  which  an  interim  order  was  passed  directing
continuance of payment of family pension to the petitioner at  the  rate  of
Rs. 425/- per month.   While the matter was so situated  the  writ  petition
under Article 32 of the Constitution  [W.P.  (C)  No.  503/2007]  was  filed
before this Court which was disposed of in terms of the  directions  already
noticed and extracted above.

3.    Alleging that the directions issued by this Court on  29.7.2008  while
disposing of W.P.  (C)  No.  503/2007  had  not  been  implemented  Contempt
Petition  (C)  No.  6/2009  was  filed.   Simultaneously,  another  contempt
petition i.e. Contempt Petition(C)  No.  7/2009  was  instituted  contending
that  in  the  proceedings  in  W.P.(C)  No.  503/2007  certain  forged  and
fabricated documents were placed by the  official  respondents  before  this
Court which amounted to an abuse of the process of the Court for  which  the
respondents in the writ petition are liable in contempt.

4.    In the course of hearing of Contempt Petition (C) Nos.  6  and  7/2009
this Court had passed an order dated 1.9.2010 to the following effect :

                 “It is grievance of the petitioner that  in  spite  of  the
           above order the respondents have not settled the family  pension
           as directed.  Though learned counsel representing the  State  of
           U.P. states that the eligible pension has been  settled  and  is
           being paid, in view of the stand taken  by  the  petitioner,  we
           direct the Accountant General, U.P. at Allahabad to go into  the
           grievance of the petitioner in terms of the order passed by this
           Court vide para 12 which we  had  extracted  and  determine  the
           amount payable till this date and report to this Court within  a
           period of six weeks.

                 List after the report is received.”

5.    Contending that the aforesaid directions dated 1.9.2010 has  not  been
complied with Contempt Petition (C) No. 3 of 2012  has  been  instituted  by
the petitioner.
6.    Two significant facts which would  render  it  wholly  unnecessary  to
adjudicate Contempt Petitions No. 6 and 7 of 2009 may be taken  note  of  at
this stage.  The first is that by virtue of the order dated 1.9.2010  passed
in the aforesaid two contempt petitions the issues  before  the  Court  have
become crystallized in a somewhat  different  manner  and  the  adjudication
that would be necessary now has changed its complexion to one of  compliance
of the directions contained in the order of this  Court  dated  1.9.2010  by
the  Accountant  General  of  the  State  of  Uttar  Pradesh.   The   second
significant fact is that no serious issue has been raised on behalf  of  the
petitioner with regard to the  necessity  of  any  further  adjudication  of
Contempt Petitions No. 6/2009 and 7/2009 and the  entire  of  the  arguments
advanced on behalf of the petitioner has centred around the  issues  arising
in Contempt  Petition  No.  3/2012.   We,  therefore,  proceed  to  consider
Contempt Petition No. 3/2012 and  deem  it  appropriate  to  close  Contempt
Petition Nos. 6/2009 and 7/2009 as not requiring any further orders  of  the

7.    In Contempt Petition No. 3/2012 the contempt  petitioner  had  claimed
that the Accountant General, State of Uttar Pradesh has not taken any  steps
to comply with the order/directions dated 1.9.2010 of  this  Court  and  has
not calculated the  amount  of  pension  payable  to  the  petitioner.   The
contempt petitioner  has  further  alleged  that  inspite  of  the  repeated
reminders the default on the part of the Accountant General, State of  Uttar
Pradesh, had persisted.   Furthermore,  it  is  the  case  of  the  contempt
petitioner that she is an old  lady  of   72  years  of  age  who  has  been
unjustly deprived of the pension due to  her  ever  since  her  husband  had
passed away on 5.4.1980 while he was still in service.

8.    The Respondent No. 1 in  the  contempt  petition,  namely,  the  Chief
Secretary of the State of Uttar Pradesh has  responded  to  the  allegations
made in the contempt petition by filing an affidavit wherein  it  is  stated
that the arrears of salary and pension, including  revised  pension  at  the
rate of Rs. 3058/- per month, has been and is being paid to  the  petitioner
on a regular basis.   According  to  the  Chief  Secretary,  the  amount  of
pension has been calculated on the basis of Rs. 620/- as the last pay  drawn
by  the  petitioner’s  husband.   Furthermore,  according   to   the   Chief
Secretary, the difference in pension and the arrears accruing on account  of
revision of pension following the 6th Pay Commission Report  has  also  been
deposited in the bank account of the petitioner (No. 2622) in  the  District
Cooperative Bank, Rajdwara, Rampur.     Alongwith his affidavit,  the  Chief
Secretary of the State has also enclosed the certificate  of  the  last  pay
drawn by the petitioner’s husband which clearly indicates  the  same  to  be
Rs. 620/- per month.

9.    The Respondent No. 2 in the contempt petition, namely, the  Accountant
General of the State of Uttar Pradesh has also filed  an  affidavit  stating
the facts relevant to the case and asserting that the calculations  made  by
the Office of the Basic Shiksha  Adhikari,  Rampur  with  regard  to  family
pension due to  the  petitioner  corresponds  to  the  calculation  of  such
pension made by the office of the Accountant General and that  there  is  no
apparent  error  in  the  calculation  with   regard   to   the   pensionary
entitlements of the petitioner.

10.   The order dated 1.9.2010 passed by this  Court  in  Contempt  Petition
Nos. 6/2009 and 7/2009 required the  Accountant  General  of  the  State  to
determine the correct amount of family pension payable to the petitioner  in
accordance with the order dated 29.7.2008 passed by this  Court  in  W.P.(C)
No. 503/2007.  It is the categorical stand of the Accountant General in  the
affidavit filed that the said order of this Court has been complied with  by
him.  In this regard the specific statement of the Accountant General  which
is to the following effect may be taken note of :

                 “However as per the calculations obtained by the office  of
           the respondent from the office of the  Basic  Shiksha  Adhikari,
           Rampur, the amount of the family pension  mentioned  therein  is
           found to be the same as that of the  amount  determined  by  the
           office of the respondent as per the order of this Hon’ble  Court
           and mentioned in the letter report dt. 4.11.2010.   Hence  there
           appears to be no difference in calculations  of  amount  by  the
           office of Respondent and the dept. of petitioner.”  (Para  6  of
           the Affidavit dated 16.3.2012)

11.   Following the above stand taken  by  the  Accountant  General  in  his
affidavit there has been a  significant  alteration  in  the  stand  of  the
petitioner as evident  from  the  additional  affidavit/rejoinder  affidavit
filed by her to  the  counter  affidavit  of  the  respondent  No.  2.   The
petitioner now seeks to raise a dispute with regard to the  last  pay  drawn
by her husband which she contends to be           Rs.  1620/-  and  not  Rs.
620/-.  On the aforesaid basis the claim to a higher amount of  pension  has
been made by the petitioner.  Though, the petitioner has brought  on  record
some material in support of the said claim, i.e.,  another  last  pay  drawn
certificate showing the same as  Rs.  1620/-  and  some  extracts  from  the
service book of her husband, the fact remains that the  aforesaid  documents
relied upon by the petitioner stand  contradicted  by  the  last  pay  drawn
certificate brought on record by the Accountant General in his affidavit  as
also the statements made by the Chief Secretary to the effect that the  last
pay drawn by the petitioner’s husband was Rs.  620/-  per  month.   Disputed
questions of fact therefore confront this Court.

12.   To hold the respondents or anyone of them  liable  for  contempt  this Court has to arrive at a  conclusion  that  the  respondents  have  wilfully disobeyed the order of the Court.  
The exercise of contempt jurisdiction  is
summary in nature and an  adjudication  of  the  liability  of  the  alleged contemnor for wilful disobedience of the Court is normally made on  admitted and undisputed facts. 
 In the present case not only there has been  a  shift
in the stand of the petitioner with regard  to  the  basic  facts  on  which
commission of contempt has been alleged even the said new/altered  facts  do
not permit an adjudication in consonance with the established principles  of
exercise of contempt jurisdiction so as to enable the Court  to  come  to  a
conclusion that any of the respondents have wilfully disobeyed the order  of
this  Court  dated  1.9.2010.   We,  accordingly,  hold  that  no  case   of
commission of any contempt of this Court’s  order  dated  1.9.2010  is  made
out.  Consequently, Contempt Petition No. 3/2012 is dismissed.  For  reasons
already recorded, Contempt Petition   Nos.  6/2009  and  7/2009  shall  also
stand closed.

                                       [P. SATHASIVAM]

                                    [RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI]

                                   [RANJAN GOGOI]

SEPTEMBER 2, 2013.

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