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Delhi High Court Initiates Criminal Contempt Proceedings After Vigilance Inquiry Finds IPAB Order Placed On Record Is Fake

Nupur Thapliyal
20 Dec 2022 6:16 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Initiates Criminal Contempt Proceedings After Vigilance Inquiry Finds IPAB Order Placed On Record Is Fake

The Delhi High Court has initiated criminal contempt proceedings against defendants in a suit after the Registrar (Vigilance)'s inquiry revealed that they placed a fabricated Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) order on record as part of a compilation of documents handed over to the court during a hearing last month.

Justice Jyoti Singh said any person who takes recourse to deflect the course of judicial proceedings and interferes with administration of justice, must be dealt with a heavy hand. There is a wealth of judicial precedents that filing of forged and fabricated documents in a court to obtain relief is interference with administration of justice, said the court.

"It cannot be disputed that the majesty of law must be upheld and Contempt of Courts Act is one of the several ways by which process of law can be saved from being hindered or thwarted so as to further the cause of justice," Justice Singh said.

Relying on Supreme Court precedents, the court said that the tendency to obstruct due course of justice or undermine the dignity of the court needs to be curbed "to deter persons having similar proclivity to resort to such acts or conduct."

"In an appropriate case, mens rea may not be clear or may be obscure but if the act or conduct tends to undermine the dignity of the Court or prejudice the party or impedes or hinders due course of judicial proceedings or administration of justice, it would amount to contempt of court," the court added.

When the suit was first listed in November, the defendants handed over a compilation of documents to the court. Relying on an order allegedly passed by the IPAB, it was argued that the said documents were material to the suit and had been deliberately concealed by the plaintiff.

The plaintiff company opposed the submission urging that there was no concealment as the documents were neither material nor adverse to it, thereby giving no reason to conceal them. However, liberty was granted to the defendants to place the said documents on record, during the course of the day.

Next day, the counsel appearing for the plaintiff company questioned the genuineness and authenticity of the order allegedly passed by IPAB and submitted that the same was a fabricated document, since no record of the order or any proceedings existed before the IPAB.

Later, an inquiry was conducted by the Registrar (Vigilance) and a report was submitted to the court on December 1 concluding that the IPAB's order was not a genuine or authentic order.

"There are no records available in which the order dated 02.03.2016, purporting to be an order of the IPAB was passed and no file to this extent exists. The conclusion in the Report is that the purported Order No. 5124/245 of 2016, alleged to have been passed in ORA/2903/16/TM/DEL is not a genuine/authentic order," the Registrar (Vigilance) said in the report.

Perusing the report, Justice Singh said that the conduct of the defendants was an attempt to interfere and obstruct the judicial proceedings and administration of justice, thereby constituting criminal contempt as defined under sections 2(c)(ii) and (iii) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

"In view of Section 18 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, the matter be placed before Hon'ble the Chief Justice for reference to the appropriate Division Bench," the court said.

The matter was listed on Tuesday before a division bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul which issued show cause notice to the defendants asking why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them.

The court also asked Registrar (Vigilance) to supply copy of the inquiry report to the parties expeditiously.


Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 1203

Click Here To Read Order

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