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Court's Order Which Cannot Be Complied With Practically, Would Not Amount To Contempt: Punjab & Haryana High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
9 Jan 2021 4:07 AM GMT
Courts Order Which Cannot Be Complied With Practically, Would Not Amount To Contempt: Punjab & Haryana High Court
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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday (06th January) observed that an implementing party could not be made liable for proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act, for non-compliance of a judicial order, if such an order cannot be complied with, practically. The Bench of Justice Augustine George Masih observed, "(If) there is an automatic provision of the erasing of the...

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday (06th January) observed that an implementing party could not be made liable for proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act, for non-compliance of a judicial order, if such an order cannot be complied with, practically.

The Bench of Justice Augustine George Masih observed,

"(If) there is an automatic provision of the erasing of the CCTV Footage leading to no-retrieval thereof, the factum of non-compliance of the order passed by this Court would in itself not render the (implementing party) liable for proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act."

The matter before the Court

The Court was hearing a review plea concerned with the order of the HC, wherein a direction was issued to the applicant-respondents No. 2 and 3 (implementing parties) to supply the information, as sought by the petitioner i.e., the CCTV Footage of the incident (wherein, allegedly the assault was committed upon the petitioner) dated 20th November 2015, within a period of 30 days.

It was contended by the implementing parties that the CCTV Footage is kept intact for a period of 20 days and after completion of the said period, there is an automatic erasing provision from the DVR storage.

It was argued that such information was not available with the respondents even at the time when the interim order was passed by this Court on 19th March 2018 and thus, it was submitted that the order passed by the Court would be impossible to comply with. It was on this basis that the review and recall of the order passed by this Court had been sought.

In essence, it was their contention that the order, as passed by this Court, in principle was acceptable to the applicant-respondents No. 2 and 3 but because of the non-practicality for complying with the same, the present application had been filed.

Court's Order

Taking into account "the limited scope of review", the prayer of the applicant-respondents No. 2 and 3 for recall of the order was not accepted.

However, it was clarified that "in case the said information is not available with the respondents and there is an automatic provision of the erasing of the CCTV Footage leading to no-retrieval thereof, the factum of non-compliance of the order passed by this Court would in itself not render the applicant-respondents No. 2 and 3 liable for proceedings under the Contempt of Court Act as it is a settled proposition of law that an order, which cannot be complied with, practically would not amount to contempt."

Further, it was clarified by the Court that in case the information is available with the Police Department and the petitioner approaches the said department under the RTI Act, the said information, if available, be provided to the petitioner, if permissible, and subject to the provisions of the Right to Information Act.

The review application, therefore, stood disposed of with above observations.

Case title - Ashish v. State Information Commissioner Haryana And Others [RA-CW-194-2020 CM-9430-CWP-2020 with CM-13140-CWP-2020 CM-9431-CWP-2020 with CM-42-CWP-2021 in CWP-6874-2018]

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