19 Jan 2022 7:40 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has observed that the power to issue notices for contempt of subordinate courts rests solely with the High Court exercising jurisdiction over it.Justice Amit Bansal observed,"Subordinate courts cannot assume jurisdiction and issue show cause notice as to why contempt proceedings be not initiated. A subordinate court can only make a reference to the High Court...
The Delhi High Court has observed that the power to issue notices for contempt of subordinate courts rests solely with the High Court exercising jurisdiction over it.
Justice Amit Bansal observed,
"Subordinate courts cannot assume jurisdiction and issue show cause notice as to why contempt proceedings be not initiated. A subordinate court can only make a reference to the High Court for initiating contempt proceedings."
The Court was dealing with a plea challenging the Commercial Court order wherein notice was directed to be issued to the ICICI Bank Ltd., the petitioner, through the Chairman, as to why criminal contempt should not be initiated against him for overreaching the process of the Court by sending photograph of summons to the defendant through WhatsApp.
It held that the plaintiff had duly filed process fee and had taken steps for issuance of regular summons to the defendant through the ordinary process as well as speed post. The photograph of the summons were sent through WhatsApp only as an additional measure so as to ensure the appearance of the defendant before the Commercial Court. Thus, there is nothing malafide in the same and it cannot be said that that was an attempt to overreach the judicial proceedings. The issue may be read in detail here.
On the issue of contempt notices, the High Court elucidated,
"In view of Sections 10 and 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, only High Courts have the power to take cognizance in respect of contempt of courts subordinate to it."
Section 10 provides Power of High Court to punish contempts of subordinate courts.
Section 15 provides that in the case of any criminal contempt of a subordinate court, the High Court may take action on a reference made to it by the subordinate court on a motion made by the Advocate-General or, in relation to a Union territory, by such Law Officer as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify in this behalf.
The Bench further reiterated that contempt of court is a special jurisdiction which ought to be exercised sparingly and with great caution, and contempt proceedings should not be initiated lightly.
Case Title: ICICI Bank v. Rashmi Sharma, CM (M) 36/2022
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 25
Click Here To Read Order