Letters Patent Appeal Not Maintainable Against Interlocutory Orders Passed In Proceedings For Contempt: Jammu & Kashmir High Court
The Jammu And Kashmir High Court has recently held that Letters Patent Appeal under Clause 12 of the Letters Patent is not maintainable against orders passed in proceedings for contempt which are of interlocutory nature and does not determine any right or issue between the parties finally.Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar thus remarked,"The word "judgment" in terms of Clause...
The Jammu And Kashmir High Court has recently held that Letters Patent Appeal under Clause 12 of the Letters Patent is not maintainable against orders passed in proceedings for contempt which are of interlocutory nature and does not determine any right or issue between the parties finally.
Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar thus remarked,
"The word "judgment" in terms of Clause 12 is undoubtedly a concept of finality in broader sense. It would either be a final judgment, a preliminary judgment or intermediary judgment or interlocutory judgment, but it should be a judgment in the sense that it decides some issue or right between the parties finally. The intermediary and interlocutory orders passed during the course of the proceedings which do not determine any right or issue between the parties cannot be said to be a "judgment" amenable to available jurisdiction of the Division Bench under Clause 12 of the Letters Patent."
Three different writ petitions had been filed by the respondents parties Shahnaza Parveen & others for completing the process of their selection for engagement as Rehbar-i-Taleem, Zonal Gender Coordinator for newly upgraded SSA School under the SSA Scheme.
In the first one, an order dated 5th August 2011 was passed whereby the concerned state authorities were directed to take the selection process to the logical end in accordance with the rules and the guidelines governing the matter having due regard to the case set up by the petitioners and the objections to the tentative select list.
The second writ petition which was a continuation of the earlier cause of action was disposed of in December 2011 by observing that the judgment and order of the court dated 5th August 2011 had not been complied with and the Executive Authorities were duty bound to implement the same.
Accordingly, the state authority was called upon to show cause as to why he should not be dealt with in law for not complying with the judgment of the court.
Thereafter, the third writ petition was disposed of on 12 February 2015 with the direction to the officials to implement the earlier court judgment and pass the requisite order in light of observation made in the earlier judgment.
This direction of the court to conclude the process of selection and to bring it to its logical end was sought to be implemented by initiating proceedings for contempt.
The contempt court passed the first order dated 19 October 2020, whereby the present Commissioner/Secretary to the Government School Education Department was directed to be made a party to the contempt proceedings and to apprise him with the status of the case. The 2nd order dated 20 November 2020 impleaded the Commissioner/Secretary to Government, School Education Department B.P. Singh in the array of parties. The 3rd order dated 11 December 2020 had directed the respondent to remain personally present before the court on the next date of hearing to explain his position along-with other alleged contemnors.
A Letters Patent Appeal was filed before the High Court by B. K. Singh, IFS, Administrative Secretary to Government, Department of School Education, J&K, challenging the orders dated 19th October 2020, 20th November 2020 and 11th December 2020 passed by the Single Judge in the contempt case.
Submissions before Court:
AAG Aseem Sawhney argued that the contempt proceedings were wholly without jurisdiction inasmuch as the scheme for appointment on the post of Rehbar-i-Taleem has been abandoned by the Government in the year 2018. Therefore, it was not possible to conclude the selection for the post under the said scheme.
He stated that the contempt proceedings had been initiated beyond the period of limitation of one year prescribed and as such were barred by time and the Robkar issued was in violation of the Contempt Rules of the High Court.
A preliminary objection was raised with regard to the maintainability of the instant appeal. It was contended that the appeal under Section 19 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1997 lied only against the order of punishment for contempt of court and not otherwise. The Letters Patent Appeal is maintainable only against the final judgment and not against the interlocutory orders which do not decides any rights of the parties, the respondents submitted.
AAG Sawhney clarified that the appeal was preferred under Clause 12 of the Letters Patent. He submitted that the Letters Patent Appeal would lie even against certain interlocutory orders of the nature as passed in the present case and placed reliance upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Education Department J&K & ors vs. Mohammad Amin and Anr.
While noting that the scheme for appointment of Rehbar-i-Taleem was done away with in the year 2018, the Court was of the view that there appeared to be prima facie no justification for not implementing the orders of the court so as to complete the process of selection during the period 2011 to 2018 or even from 2015 to 2018.
"None of the orders passed by the contempt court decide any lis between the parties or adjudicates upon any rights of the parties so as to bring those orders within the periphery of a "judgment" to enable the appellant to maintain the Letters Patent Appeal. Even the subsequent orders passed in the contempt proceedings and brought on record by means of a miscellaneous application nowhere decides any right of the parties", noted the Bench.
The Court further found that the High Court on contempt side had not issued any additional direction and had not improved upon the earlier directions issued by the writ court.
Accordingly, the Letters Patent Appeal was not found to be maintainable and was dismissed.