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Subordinate Court Can't Assume Jurisdiction Under Contempt Of Courts Act: Delhi HC Sets Aside Trial Court Order Issuing Show Cause To CBI Director

Nupur Thapliyal
20 April 2022 8:45 AM GMT
Subordinate Court Cant Assume Jurisdiction Under Contempt Of Courts Act: Delhi HC Sets Aside Trial Court Order Issuing Show Cause To CBI Director
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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday set aside a Trial Court order issuing show cause notice to the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to explain why not a reference of Contempt of Court be made by him against the respective officers of the agency for the purported non-compliance of judicial orders. Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said that it was "outrightly illegal" for the Special...

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday set aside a Trial Court order issuing show cause notice to the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to explain why not a reference of Contempt of Court be made by him against the respective officers of the agency for the purported non-compliance of judicial orders.

Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said that it was "outrightly illegal" for the Special CBI Judge of the Rouse Avenue Court to issue the said order.

"A subordinate court on its own cannot assume jurisdiction under the Contempt of Courts Act and issue show cause notice as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated," the Bench observed.

The Court was dealing with a plea filed by CBI seeking setting aside of orders dated 31st March 2022 and 13th April 2022 passed by Special CBI Judge.

The Special Judge had vide order dated 31st March 2022 observed that the original complaint on the basis of which the FIR was registered was not made a part of the relied upon documents by the CBI. Therefore, in order to appreciate what exactly was done in the course of further investigation, the Judge thought it prudent to direct the Investigating Officer to produce complete Case Diaries and Crime File.

Thereafter, on 13th April 2022, an application was moved by the Investigating Officer seeking adjournment on the ground that the matter regarding the production of documents as directed by the Court was pending consideration with higher officials.

The Special Judge had however, took it to be a Contempt of Court and issued Show-Cause Notice to the Director, CBI.

According to the impugned order, the show cause notice was issued to the CBI director to explain why not a reference of Contempt of Court be made by him against the respective officers of CBI for deliberate non-compliance of his orders as well as to identify the responsible officers, obtain their reply and send the same to the Court.

It was thus argued by the CBI that there was no deliberate or wilful disobedience of the orders of the Court nor was there any conscious defiance of the orders of the Special Judge. It was also submitted that the show cause notice issued to the Director of the CBI for initiation of the contempt was in total disregard to the process of law and procedure since the court concerned did not have the powers of contempt.

Regarding the impugned order dated 31st March 2022 is concerned, an oral undertaking was given by the CBI counsel that the direction passed shall be duly complied without prejudice to the question of law involved. Accordingly, the Court was of the view that there was nothing left for adjudication qua the said order.

However, regarding the other impugned order, the Court noted that under Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971, the High Court has the jurisdiction to take cognizance of an alleged contempt having been committed in respect of subordinate courts.

"In order to bring the conduct to the notice of the High Court, the subordinate court is supposed to send a reference of the matter to the High Court. A subordinate court on its own cannot assume jurisdiction under the Contempt of Courts Act and issue show cause notice as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated," the Court said.

It added that even under sec. 15, only the Supreme Court and the High Courts have the power to suo moto take cognizance of the alleged contemptuous acts.

"The said order is thus against the procedure laid down under the Contempt of Courts Act as also under the Rules framed by the High Court as regards the contempt proceedings," the Court observed.

It added "Therefore, it is outrightly illegal for the Ld. Special Judge to issue the said Order issuing Show-Cause Notice to the Director, CBI to explain why not a reference of Contempt of Court be made by him against the respective officers of CBI for the purported non-compliance of its orders."

The plea was thus partly allowed and disposed of accordingly.

Special Public Prosecutor Anupam S Sharma along with Advocates Prakarsh Airan and Harpreet Kalsi appeared for CBI.

Case Title: CENTRAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION v. STATE

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 342

Click Here To Read Order 


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