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Third Party Not Absolved From Contempt If They Are Informed That Their Conduct Amounts To Violation Of Court Order: Delhi High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
19 April 2022 8:01 AM GMT
Third Party Not Absolved From Contempt If They Are Informed That Their Conduct Amounts To Violation Of Court Order: Delhi High Court
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Power to punish for contempt is necessary for the maintenance of an effective legal system.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday observed that disobedience of an order of the Court, if permitted, will result in striking at the root of the rule of law on which our system of governance is based. Justice Subramonium Prasad added that the power to punish for contempt is necessary for the maintenance of an effective legal system and the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 has been primarily...

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday observed that disobedience of an order of the Court, if permitted, will result in striking at the root of the rule of law on which our system of governance is based.

Justice Subramonium Prasad added that the power to punish for contempt is necessary for the maintenance of an effective legal system and the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 has been primarily legislated to prevent interference in the course of administration of justice.

"It is, therefore, well settled that though broadly a person who is not a party to the proceedings cannot be proceeded against for violation of the order, but a third party cannot seek to absolve themselves if they are informed about the fact that their conduct amounts to a violation of the Court order and that despite the information, they choose to wilfully flout the mandate of the Court. If such a conduct is permitted, then it will encourage subversion of judicial orders, which are to be properly understood and complied with," the Court observed.

The Bench was dealing with a contempt petition filed for wilful disobedience of the Order dated 14.03.2012, passed by the High Court in a civil suit. The facts were that the Petitioner had inherited the property from her late sister and the brother-in-law of the Petitioner resided on the ground floor of the said property along with his wife, who was also a sister of the Petitioner.

It was stated that on the death of the Petitioner's sister, her husband filed a suit before High Court claiming to be the owner of the ground floor of the property in question. It was also stated that the said suit was settled before the Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre.

In terms of the settlement, a joint application under Order XXIII Rule 1/3 read with sec. 151 CPC was filed before the Court. On 14.03.2012, the Court passed a decree in terms of the settlement deed. The decree was passed in presence of the Plaintiff and the Defendants.

Thereafter, the Petitioner, in accordance with the directions of the Court took possession of the property in question. It was stated that on the night of 24.05.2018, the Petitioner had received a call in the evening from the tenant, informing her that some people had trespassed in the property, i.e. the ground floor.

It was later found that the present Respondents had trespassed the property. Consequently, the Petitioner filed a complaint before the local police and an FIR was also registered under sec. 448 and 34 of IPC.

The Respondents were made aware of the undertaking given. Despite the same, the Respondents did not vacate the premises which resulted in the filing of the contempt petition.

The short question which arose for consideration before the Court was whether the Respondents had committed contempt of Court or not?

"The law of contempt has been brought primarily to secure public respect and confidence in the judicial process and provide a sanction for any act or conduct which is likely to destroy or impair such respect and confidence. It is well settled that contempt must not be resorted to when there are provisions for execution, but at the same time, just because remedy of execution lies, it does not mean that contempt proceedings cannot be initiated," the Court said.

It added that the undertaking given before the Court would undoubtedly take precedence over the will executed by Mr. RN Kapur prior to giving the said undertaking.

"This Court is of the opinion that the undertaking given to the Court has to be respected and cannot be permitted to be circumvented by saying that the respondents were not parties to the suit and have not given the undertaking," it said.

The Court said that even assuming that the Respondent No.1 was initially not aware about the consent decree, it was pertinent to note that the moment she was informed about the undertaking given through whom Respondent No.1 derived title, she ought to have respected the undertaking given to the Court and should not have persistently breached the same.

The Court was of the opinion that there was an obstinate and wilful act on the part of the Respondent not to obey the consent decree which amounted to civil contempt under sec. 2 (b) of the Contempt of Courts, 1971 Act.

"The fact that the Suit is pending is no answer for the contemptuous disobedience on the part of the Respondent to violate the consent decree which is based on an undertaking given by R. N. Kapur through whom Respondent No.1 derives title. The Respondents have, therefore, committed contempt and are liable for punishment under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971," the Court observed.

The matter is not listed on April 25 for arguments on sentence. The Contemnors are directed to be present in Court on that day.

Case Title: INDRA PASRICHA v. DEEPIKA CHAUHAN & ORS

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 338

Click Here To Read Order 


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