The Allahabad High Court recently dropped the contempt proceedings initiated against a district magistrate (DM) at the instance of a litigant.
The Bench comprising Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh-I opined that the complaint against District Magistrate Suhas LY had been made by the litigant in order to coerce him into giving a favourable judgment.
“If there was any infirmity in the impugned orders, legal remedy available under law could have been availed by the respondent and that by filing Contempt Proceedings, the appellant could not have been coerced into passing an order in favour of the respondent which appears to be the intention of the Respondent No.2 in preferring the Contempt proceedings,” it opined.
By way of background, the DM had been directed by the High Court to examine original records in a case, keeping in mind the law laid down by a division bench of the court in Shivram Singh v. State of U.P. and Others. The contempt petition was then filed alleging that the DM had not passed any order on the representation made by the petitioner, despite the orders by the High Court, but had rejected the petitioner’s claim and disposed of the petition nevertheless.
A single judge had then acted upon the complaint and through an order passed on 28 May this year, had sought to know why action shouldn’t be initiated against the DM for his conduct.
Consequent to this order, the DM had then constituted a committee of four officers to submit a meticulous report. This committee, after a thorough examination of the entire record, submitted its report negating the petitioner’s claim. The DM had thereafter proceeded to examine the record and the committee’s report in light of the judgment in Shivram Singh’s case and had rejected the petitioner’s claim.
While the development was made known to the single judge, he had opined that till the order passed in May held the field, the stand taken by the DM while rejecting the petitioner’s claim cannot be accepted. The DM was, however, granted the liberty to file a review petition against the order passed in May.
Challenging this order, the DM, represented by Advocate Anoop Trivedi, now contended that he had complied with the High Court’s order to examine the record in the light of the judgment in Shivram Singh’s case, and hence, the contempt proceedings initiated against him should be quashed.
Ruling in favour of the DM, the court asserted that the intention behind filing of the contempt petition seemed to be to coerce the DM into passing a favourable order. It further opined that the single judge had exceeded his powers in contempt proceedings by looking into the merits of the orders passed by the DM.
The court therefore allowed the appeal, setting aside the contempt proceedings initiated against the DM, and noting, “Therefore, it is evident that the appellant had made all possible efforts to finally dispose of the representation of the respondent in accordance with law but feeling aggrieved, the respondent approached the Contempt Court wherein the impugned order dated 28.05.2018 had been passed by the learned Single Judge showing dissatisfaction with the said orders touching the merits which does not appear to be within the domain of the learned Single Judge and we therefore, accordingly, convinced that the impugned order deserves to be set-aside and is, accordingly set-aside and further the Contempt proceedings drawn against the appellant are, accordingly, dropped.”