Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed the writ petition filed by Justice Karnan challenging the vires of Contempt of Court and against the order dated 12th of May, 2017 of the Registrar (Judicial-I) of the Supreme Court of India and.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Harishankar held that challenge to the constitutionality of the Contempt of Courts Act in the present case does not lie inasmuch as the Supreme Court has not exercised power under the Contempt of Courts Act but invoked its inherent jurisdiction under Article 129 of the Constitution of India.
“So far as the challenge to the constitutionality of the Contempt of Courts Act is concerned, it has been pointed out, and rightly so, by Mr. Sanjay Jain, ld. Senior Counsel for the UOI that the Supreme Court of India has not exercised jurisdiction in exercise of powers under the Contempt of Courts Act but has invoked its inherent jurisdiction under Article 129 of the Constitution of India when it has suo motu initiated the contempt proceedings against the petitioner”
Advocate Mathew Nedumpara who appeared for Justice Karnan argued that the proceedings before the Supreme Court are void ab initio and illegal for the reason that principles of natural justice were not complied with. He contended that the petitioner was not even served with the notice dated 8th of May 2017
But the bench observed that ;
“This is contrary not only to the record of the court extracted above but also to the averments in the writ petition. In addition, the petitioner’s communication dated 10th February, 2017 challenges the authority of the court to initiate proceedings which has been placed before the court on 13th February, 2017. The record establishes that the petitioner was given more than ample opportunity to file his response. He was afforded at least three opportunities to tender his response, on the 8th of February 2017; 31st of March 2017 as well as on the 1st of May 2017. Instead of availing the opportunities and doing so, the petitioner resorted to passing orders against the Judges of the Supreme Court and making further contumacious statements to the press, as have been noted in the order dated 1 st May, 2017”.
Advocate Nedumpara also contended that the petitioner was under no legal obligation to file a response and was entitled to maintain silence. To this the Court replied as follows;
“Unfortunately, the petitioner did not remain silent. The only difference was that instead of filing a response before the court, he chose to make public declarations of his defence and issued orders against the proceedings before the Supreme Court of India. As noted above, the petitioner has not objected before us to the final judgment dated 9th of May 2017 by the Supreme Court recording reasons for the petitioner’s conviction”.
The Court also said it is evident from the above that the petitioner was served with the notice to show cause.
“He was given repeated and adequate opportunity to present his defence. The petitioner’s communications, orders and conduct establish that he had full knowledge of the orders of the court, proceedings as well as the material against him. It needs bearing in mind that the case is not concerned with an illiterate or impoverished person but with a legally trained person, an adjudicator holding a Constitutional position. The submission that principles of natural justice were not complied with is clearly not borne out from the record”, said the Court.