The Delhi High Court recently awarded week-long imprisonment to a litigant, finding him guilty of criminal contempt of court for leveling baseless allegations of impropriety against government counsel appearing for the Revenue Department.
“The Court is of the view that the conduct of the respondent, insofar as he has leveled baseless allegations against counsel who appeared and assisted the Court and as well as for the other reasons specified in the Show Cause Notice, tantamount to substantial interference in the administration of justice. In the circumstances, the respondent Mr. Rakesh Kumar Gupta is found guilty of criminal contempt of court,” the Bench comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Najmi Waziri observed, while also imposing on him a fine of Rs. 2,000. It, however, suspended the sentence for 60 days, in order to enable him to file an Appeal against this order.
The Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the actions of one Mr. Rakesh Kumar Gupta, who had made some serious allegations on the personal integrity of the counsel appearing for the Revenue Department. The Court opined that Mr. Gupta had cast aspersions against the integrity of the advocates for the Revenue who, as officers of the Court, have been assisting the Court in the administration of justice.
“His conduct betrays a wanton disregard of Court procedure and an indulgence in wastage of previous judicial time especially in view of his repeated resiling from withdrawing the allegations against lawyers assisting the Court and offering an unconditional apology. Criminal contempt of court includes publication in writing or of doing of any other act whatsoever, which prejudices or tends to interfere or obstruct in any manner, the course of judicial proceedings or the administration of justice. The respondent has made allegations of impropriety and cast aspersions on the professional integrity of counsel for the Revenue,” it observed in this regard.
Moreover, the Court noted that Mr. Gupta had not only addressed such allegations to the Government Counsel, but had also made an application to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, seeking registration of a case against the Counsel. It further took note of the fact that Mr. Gupta had, within the last 30 months, not made any attempt to plead or justify the allegations as being true, and had on multiple occasions agreed to withdraw the allegations, but had resiled from honoring the same.
“The allegations against the counsel for the Revenue and aspersions cast upon their professional integrity by the respondent, would deter and inhibit counsel from rendering assistance to the Court and to their client fully and freely. It would also be a serious and constant embarrassment in the legal fraternity and amongst their respective families, between relatives and social circle,” it observed, in light of recusal of two standing counsels from the case in hand, in the past.
The Court had also imposed costs of Rs. 2,500 each while dismissing Mr. Gupta’s various applications seeking a myriad of reliefs ranging from recording the Court proceedings by phone to passing an interim award of Rs. 10 crore in his favour. Instead of honoring these costs, Mr. Gupta had expected that the Court would recommend him for a Bharat Ratna for the “huge public service (at the risk of his life) and for removing corruption in justice administration (sic)”.
“…it is clear that after the respondent’s intervention application was rejected on 23.09.2008, his continued engagement in communication with the standing counsel for leveling allegations against them, addressing e-mail directly to this Court and placing on record an affidavit detailing the allegations, even after stating that he will withdraw them vis-a-vis the standing counsel but would nevertheless press the same allegations elsewhere constitutes criminal contempt of court,” it therefore opined.