'Be Careful In Future': Supreme Courts Lets Off 9 TN Govt Officers In Contempt Case After Implementing Directions

The Court said that it deprecated the stubbornness of the officers.

Update: 2022-01-21 14:47 GMT

The Supreme Court on Wednesday closed the contempt proceedings against 9 officers of the Tamil Nadu Government for not implementing a direction to revise the seniority list of officers in the Public Works Department.In October last year, the Court had found them guilty of contempt of court for violating the Court's judgment and the matter was kept for sentence hearing.  Later, the...

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday closed the contempt proceedings against 9 officers of the Tamil Nadu Government for not implementing a direction to revise the seniority list of officers in the Public Works Department.

In October last year, the Court had found them guilty of contempt of court for violating the Court's judgment and the matter was kept for sentence hearing.  Later, the directions were implemented and the contemnors expressed remores.

"We have heard the contemnors personally who have expressed remorse for not implementing the directions. They have further stated that they had no intention to violate the directions issued by this Court and they have immense respect for this Court and the orders passed by it", the Court noted.

Warning the contemnors to be careful in future for prompt implementation of the Top Court's directions, the bench of Justices LN Rao and BR Gavai in their order said,

"Though the direction given on 01.10.2021 has been carried out in its letter and spirit, we do not appreciate the attitude of the respondents in delaying implementation of the direction issued by this Court. The petitioners have been driven from pillar to post and had to approach this Court by filing repeated applications for implementation of the directions issued by this Court. The proclivity of the respondents/contemnors to be stubborn and obdurate is deprecated. We warn the contemnors to be careful in future and to implement directions given by a court of law promptly. With this warning, the contempt petitions are closed."

On October 1, 2021 the Supreme Court had held the following officers (their designations at the relevant time given in brackets) guilty of contempt of court for their failure to follow the order passed by the Supreme Court on January 22, 2016:

1. M. Vijayakumar IAS (Secretary, Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission).

2. S. Thinakaran( Engineer-in-Chief, WRD and Chief Engineer (General), TN PWD)

3. S. Swara IAS (Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu, P & AR Dept)

4. K. Ramamoorthy (Engineer-in-Chief(WRO) and Chief Engineer(General), TN PWD).

5.K. Nanthakumar IAS (Secretary, TNPSC).

6. K. Shanmugham (Chief Secretary to the Govt of Tamil Nadu).

7. Dr. K. Manivasan IAS(Principal Secretary to Govt of TN).

8. S.K Prabhakar (Secretary, PWD).

9. S. Bhaktavachalam.

The contempt petitions were filed stating that the respondents published a revised seniority list breaching the principle laid down by the Supreme Court.

The Court had also directed the respondents on October 1, 2021 to revise and publish the seniority list of the selectees, who were selected in the selection process conducted in pursuance of the notification issued by TNPSC dated 10th September 1999, strictly on the basis of the merit determined by it in the selection process and not on the basis of the roster point.This was directed to be done within a period of 12 weeks. 

While posting the matter for January 10, 2022 for hearing the contemnors on the quantum of punishment, the Court had also directed the officers to be present before the Court for hearing. 

Reporting compliance of the directions issued by the Top Court by way of an affidavit, the counsel informed the court that the seniority list of all the persons concerned and not restricted to the petitioners has been altered.

Appearing for the petitioners, Advocates Prashant Bhushan and N.Subramanian had submitted that the contemner's conduct of disobeying the Top Court's order despite repeated directions was wilful, with an ulterior motive and no leniency should be shown to them. They had also voiced their grievances by stating that they had to knock the doors of the Top Court on several occasions for implementation of the directions issued in 2016.

It was also their contention that the contemnors had scant respect for the orders of this court and deserve to to be punished by being sent to jail at least for a month.

Appearing for the contemnors, Senior Counsel Mukul Rohatgi, C.S.Vaidyanathan, P.Wilson and V.Giri submitted that the contemnors being public servants were bound to implement the policies of the State Government. It was also submitted that during the pendency of the litigation, a legislation was enacted and a decision was taken to file a review petition in the High Court. Senior Counsel(s) also submitted that the contemnors had no personal animosity towards the Petitioner.

It was further submitted that the contemnors tendered unconditional apology for not carrying out the directions issued by this Court promptly and, therefore, they should be pardoned for the mistake committed by them.

Case Title: V. Senthur and another versus M. Vijayakumar IAS and others |Contempt Petition(Civil) 638/2017

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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