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Monday, January 20, 2014

Contempt of Court - No violation - No wilful disobedience -High court order for reinstatement - Apex court in addition to that ,order for back wages for the period of out of job - Except that - the question of promotion, revised pay scale etc., not raised nor discussed in both courts' judgments - already another person was promoted - not challenged - for one post two payments of salary does not arise - in the absence of willfulness - in the absence of any directions and it's alleged violation - no contempt petition is maintainable - Apex court dismissed the Contempt petition = Ram Kishan …Applicant Versus Sh. Tarun Bajaj & Ors. …Respondents 2014 ( January - Vol - 1-D.B.) Judis.nic.in/ S.C./ file name =41161

Contempt of Court - No violation - No wilful disobedience -High court order for reinstatement - Apex court  in addition to that ,order for back wages for the period of out of job - Except that - the question of promotion, revised pay scale etc., not raised nor discussed in both courts' judgments - already another person was promoted - not challenged - for one post two payments of salary does not arise - in the absence of wilfulness -  in the absence of any directions and it's alleged violation - no contempt petition is maintainable - Apex court dismissed the Contempt petition =
Therefore, there has to be a calculated  action  with
      evil motive on his part.  
Even if there is a disobedience of an order,
      but such disobedience is the result of some  compelling  circumstances
      under which it was not possible for the contemnor to comply  with  the
      order, the contemnor cannot be punished.  
“Committal or  sequestration
      will not be ordered unless contempt involves a degree  of  default  or
      misconduct”.
It is well settled principle of law that if two  interpretations
      are possible, and if  the  action  is  not  contumacious,  a  contempt
      proceeding would not be maintainable.

The
      application  for  initiating  the  contempt  proceedings  is   totally
      misconceived and is liable to be rejected.

there is neither any direction of any  court  to  give
      benefit of the revised post to the applicant, nor his candidature  has
      ever been considered for that post.  
The judgment and order of the learned Single Judge granting  the
      relief to the applicant reads:
           “Resultantly, this writ petition is  allowed,  the  order  dated
           19.11.2003 (Annexure P-27) is set aside and  the  petitioner  is
           ordered to be reinstated into  service  with  all  consequential
           benefits. It is, however, clarified that the petitioner will not
           be entitled to wages for the period he was out of job.”
                                               (Emphasis added)
            The judgment and order of this Court  dated  5.7.2012  in  Civil
      Appeal No. 4985/2012 reads:
           “Accordingly, we allow the appeal and modify the  order  of  the
           learned  Single  Judge,  as  also  of  the  Division  Bench,  by
           directing that the appellant will also be entitled to back-wages
           for the period  during  the  termination  of  his  services  and
           reinstatement in terms of the High Court’s order.
Therefore, the question  does
      arise as to whether such an order would also mean that  the  applicant
      could claim post revision and benefits  of  the  higher  post  without
      being considered for the said post.
In view of the aforesaid  settled  legal  proposition,  we  have
      repeatedly asked the  learned  counsel  appearing  for  the  applicant
      under what circumstances this Court can ask the statutory authority to
      pay the salary to two persons for one post, particularly  in  view  of
      the fact that Smt. Poonam Bhasin had never been a party  to  the  lis,
      nor her re-designation/promotion  had  ever  been  challenged  by  the
      applicant or someone else. More so, learned counsel for the  applicant
      could not point out the service rules applicable to the  applicant  to
      assess his eligibility etc.


      15.   In such a fact-situation, leaving the issue  of  entitlement  of
      the applicant, we are of the considered opinion that no case  is  made
      out to initiate the contempt proceedings against the respondents.  The
      petition is totally misconceived and devoid of  merit,  hence,  it  is
      dismissed.  No order as to costs.


2014 ( January - Vol - 1-D.B.) Judis.nic.in/ S.C./ file name  =41161

REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION


                      CONTEMPT PETITION NO. 336 of 2013


                                     IN


                    CIVIL APPEAL NO. 4985 of 2012




      Ram Kishan                                             …Applicant


                                   Versus


      Sh. Tarun Bajaj & Ors.
      …Respondents






                               J U D G M E N T


      Dr. B.S. Chauhan, J.




      1.    This Contempt Petition has been filed by the applicant that  the
      respondents, who are alleged contemnors herein, have wilfully violated
      the judgment and order dated 5.7.2012 passed by this Court in C.A. No.
      4985 of 2012 as  the  respondents  failed  to  pay  all  consequential
      benefits of service as directed and thus, the  respondents  should  be
      dealt with under the  provisions  of  Contempt  of  Courts  Act,  1971
      (hereinafter referred to as `the Act’) and   further,  to  direct  the
      contemnors to implement the order in  its  true  spirit  and  fix  his
      pension according to the post of Joint Secretary (Legal)  and  provide
      all its retirement benefits.


      2.    Facts and circumstances of this petition are that the  applicant
      while working as an Under Secretary  (Legal),  Dakshin  Haryana  Bijli
      Vitran  Nigam  Ltd.  (hereinafter  referred   to   as   `Nigam’)   was
      compulsorily retired vide an order  dated  19.11.2003.
Aggrieved,  he
      challenged the said order by filing Writ Petition No. 3954 of 2004 and
      during  its  pendency,  he  reached  the  age  of  superannuation   on
      28.2.2006.
The said writ petition was allowed by the  learned  Single
      Judge vide judgment and order dated 10.2.2009  quashing  the  impugned
      order dated 19.11.2003 
but  did  not  award  the  back  wages  to  the
      applicant for the period he was out of job.
The Nigam filed  LPA  No.
      646 of 2009 challenging the order of the learned  Single  Judge.  
The
      applicant also filed LPA No. 542 of 2009 for claiming the  arrears  of
      pay.
The LPA of Nigam was dismissed affirming the judgment and  order
      of the Single Judge vide judgment and order dated  24.7.2009  and  has
      attained finality.   
The  appeal  filed  by  the  applicant  was  also
      dismissed vide judgment and order dated 10.8.2009.


      3.    Aggrieved, the applicant challenged the judgment and order dated
      10.8.2009 of the Division Bench by filing the Special  Leave  Petition
      which was entertained as C.A. No. 4985 of 2012, which was disposed  of
      by this Court vide judgment and order dated  5.7.2012  directing  that
      the applicant shall be entitled to  the  back  wages  for  the  period
      during which he was out of job along with reinstatement.  
The applicant
      has not been given the benefit of re-designated pay/post and the  pay-
      scale of a higher post wherein after the compulsory retirement of  the
      applicant, one Smt. Pooman Bhasin had been appointed w.e.f.  16.3.2005
      and has been extended the benefit which has been allegedly  denied  to
      the applicant.
           Hence, this Contempt Petition.


      4.    Shri Vikas Mehta, learned counsel appearing  on  behalf  of  the
      applicant, has submitted that as the learned Single Judge of the  High
      Court had allowed the writ petition filed by  the  applicant  quashing
      the order of compulsory retirement  with  all  consequential  benefits
      except back wages and this Court allowed the appeal of  the  applicant
      and has given back wages also.  
The  conjoint  reading  of  both  the
      orders tantamount to grant of all possible/permissible benefits to the
      applicant for his service.
As the applicant was senior to Smt.  Poonam
      Bhasin, he was entitled to the  re-designated  post  as  well  as  the
      salary for the post of Joint Secretary (Legal), which has been  denied
      by the respondents.
Therefore, the  applicant  is  entitled  for  the
      claim and the  respondents  should  be  prosecuted  and  punished  for
      disobedience of the said judgments and orders.


      5.    On the contrary, Shri Narender Hooda, learned AAG  appearing  on
      behalf of the respondents,  has  vehemently  opposed  the  application
      contending that
there is neither any direction of any  court  to  give
      benefit of the revised post to the applicant, nor his candidature  has
      ever been considered for that post.
The  State  authority  cannot  be
      forced to pay the salary to two persons for one  post.
The  applicant
      has never challenged the re-designation of Smt. Poonam Bhasin.  
Thus,
      there is no wilful disobedience of any order passed by this Court.
The
      application  for  initiating  the  contempt  proceedings  is   totally
      misconceived and is liable to be rejected.


      6.    We have considered the rival  contentions  advanced  by  learned
      counsel for the parties and perused the records.


      7.    The judgment and order of the learned Single Judge granting  the
      relief to the applicant reads:
           “Resultantly, this writ petition is  allowed,  the  order  dated
           19.11.2003 (Annexure P-27) is set aside and  the  petitioner  is
           ordered to be reinstated into  service  with  all  consequential
           benefits. It is, however, clarified that the petitioner will not
           be entitled to wages for the period he was out of job.”
                                               (Emphasis added)
            The judgment and order of this Court  dated  5.7.2012  in  Civil
      Appeal No. 4985/2012 reads:
           “Accordingly, we allow the appeal and modify the  order  of  the
           learned  Single  Judge,  as  also  of  the  Division  Bench,  by
           directing that the appellant will also be entitled to back-wages
           for the period  during  the  termination  of  his  services  and
           reinstatement in terms of the High Court’s order.


      8.    Both the judgments referred to hereinabove speak of  back  wages
      and the judgment of  the  learned  Single  Judge  in  the  High  Court
      referred to all consequential benefits.
Therefore, the question  does
      arise as to whether such an order would also mean that  the  applicant
      could claim post revision and benefits  of  the  higher  post  without
      being considered for the said post.


      9.    Contempt jurisdiction conferred onto the  law  courts  power  to
      punish an offender for his wilful  disobedience/contumacious   conduct
      or obstruction to the majesty of law, for the reason that respect  and
      authority commanded by the courts of law are the greatest guarantee to
      an ordinary citizens that his rights shall be protected and the entire
      democratic fabric of the society will crumble down if the  respect  of
      the judiciary is undermined.
Undoubtedly, the contempt jurisdiction is
      a powerful weapon in the hands of the courts of law but that by itself
      operates as a string of caution and unless, thus, otherwise  satisfied
      beyond reasonable doubt, it would neither fair nor reasonable for  the
      law courts to exercise jurisdiction under the Act.
The proceedings are
      quasi- criminal in nature, and therefore, standard of  proof  required
      in these proceedings is beyond all reasonable doubt. It  would  rather
      be hazardous to impose sentence for contempt  on  the  authorities  in
      exercise of contempt jurisdiction on mere probabilities.
 (Vide:  V.G.
      Nigam & Ors. v. Kedar Nath Gupta & Anr., AIR 1992 SC 2153; Chhotu  Ram
      v. Urvashi Gulati & Anr., AIR 2001 SC 3468; Anil Ratan Sarkar  &  Ors.
      v. Hirak Ghosh & Ors., AIR 2002 SC 1405; Bank of Baroda  v.  Sadruddin
      Hasan Daya & Anr., AIR 2004 SC 942; Sahdeo alias Sahdeo Singh v. State
      of U.P. & Ors., (2010) 3 SCC 705; and  National  Fertilizers  Ltd.  v.
      Tuncay Alankus & Anr., AIR 2013 SC 1299).


      10.   Thus, in order to punish a contemnor, it has to  be  established
      that  disobedience  of  the  order  is  ‘wilful’.  The  word  ‘wilful’
      introduces a mental element and hence, requires looking into the  mind
      of person/contemnor by gauging his actions, which is an indication  of
      one’s state of mind. ‘Wilful’ means knowingly intentional,  conscious,
      calculated and deliberate with full knowledge of consequences  flowing
      therefrom. It excludes casual, accidental, bonafide  or  unintentional
      acts  or  genuine  inability.   Wilful   acts   does   not   encompass
      involuntarily or negligent actions. The act has to be done with a “bad
      purpose or without justifiable excuse or  stubbornly,  obstinately  or
      perversely”. Wilful act is  to  be  distinguished  from  an  act  done
      carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently.  It  does  not
      include any act done negligently  or  involuntarily.   The  deliberate
      conduct of a person means that he knows what he is doing  and  intends
      to do the same.
Therefore, there has to be a calculated  action  with
      evil motive on his part.  Even if there is a disobedience of an order,
      but such disobedience is the result of some  compelling  circumstances
      under which it was not possible for the contemnor to comply  with  the
      order, the contemnor cannot be punished.  “Committal or  sequestration
      will not be ordered unless contempt involves a degree  of  default  or
      misconduct”.
(Vide: S. Sundaram Pillai, etc.  v.  V.R.  Pattabiraman;
      AIR 1985 SC 582; Rakapalli Raja Rama Gopala Rao  v.  Naragani  Govinda
      Sehararao & Anr., AIR 1989 SC 2185; Niaz Mohammad & Ors.  etc.etc.  v.
      State of Haryana & Ors., AIR 1995 SC 308; Chordia  Automobiles  v.  S.
      Moosa, AIR 2000 SC 1880;  M/s. Ashok Paper  Kamgar  Union  &  Ors.  v.
      Dharam Godha & Ors., AIR 2004 SC 105; State of Orissa &  Ors.  v.  Md.
      Illiyas, AIR 2006 SC 258; and Uniworth Textiles Ltd. v.  CCE,  Raipur,
      (2013) 9 SCC 753).


      11.   In Lt. Col. K.D. Gupta v. Union of India &  Anr.,  AIR  1989  SC
      2071, this Court dealt with a case wherein  direction  was  issued  to
      the Union of India to pay the amount of Rs. 4 lakhs to  the  applicant
      therein and release him from  defence service.  The  said  amount  was
      paid to the applicant after deducting the income tax  payable  on  the
      said amount. While dealing with the contempt application,  this  Court
      held that “withholding the amount cannot be held to be either malafide
      or was there any scope to impute  that  the  respondents  intended  to
      violate the direction of this Court.”


      12.   In Mrityunjoy Das & Anr. v. Sayed Hasibur Rahaman  &  Ors.,  AIR
      2001 SC 1293, the Court while dealing with the issue  whether a  doubt
      persisted as to the applicability  of  the  order  of  this  Court  to
      complainants held that it would not give rise to a contempt  petition.
      The court was dealing with a case wherein  the  statutory  authorities
      had come to the conclusion that  the  order  of  this  court  was  not
      applicable to the said complainants while dealing with the case  under
      the provision of West Bengal Land Reforms Act, 1955.


      13.   It is well settled principle of law that if two  interpretations
      are possible, and if  the  action  is  not  contumacious,  a  contempt
      proceeding would not be maintainable. The effect and  purport  of  the
      order is to be taken into consideration and the same must be  read  in
      its  entirety.  Therefore,  the   element   of   willingness   is   an
      indispensable requirement to bring home the charge within the  meaning
      of the Act. (See: Sushila Raje Holkar v. Anil Kak  (Retd.),  AIR  2008
      (Supp-2) SC 1837; and Three Cheers Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. &  Ors.  v.
      C.E.S.C. Ltd., AIR 2009 SC 735).


      14.   In view of the aforesaid  settled  legal  proposition,  we  have
      repeatedly asked the  learned  counsel  appearing  for  the  applicant
      under what circumstances this Court can ask the statutory authority to
      pay the salary to two persons for one post, particularly  in  view  of
      the fact that Smt. Poonam Bhasin had never been a party  to  the  lis,
      nor her re-designation/promotion  had  ever  been  challenged  by  the
      applicant or someone else. More so, learned counsel for the  applicant
      could not point out the service rules applicable to the  applicant  to
      assess his eligibility etc.


      15.   In such a fact-situation, leaving the issue  of  entitlement  of
      the applicant, we are of the considered opinion that no case  is  made
      out to initiate the contempt proceedings against the respondents.  The
      petition is totally misconceived and devoid of  merit,  hence,  it  is
      dismissed.  No order as to costs.


                                   .......................................
                                   .............J.
                                    (Dr. B.S. CHAUHAN)




                                   …….……………………………J.
                                      (J. CHELAMESWAR)
    New Delhi,
    January 17, 2014





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