The Karnataka High Court has held that it cannot initiate contempt proceedings for alleged breach of orders passed by Karnataka Appellate Tribunal (KAT) as it is not subordinate to the High Court, within the meaning of Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum while disposing off a civil contempt petition filed by one Lalsab Nadaf said "No case is made out to initiate action under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The contempt petition is accordingly disposed of."
The applicant had moved the court under sections 10 and 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act read with Article 215 of the Constitution of India. It was prayed that the high court issue notice to the accused Chief Manager of a Cooperative Bank and to punish him with maximum punishment for disobedience of the order dated June 27, 2019 passed by the tribunal.
The counsel appearing for the applicant submitted that KAT established under the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal Act, 1976, is subordinate to this Court, in view of Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 this Court has a power to punish a person for committing contempt of the order passed by the KAT.
Further, it was said that considering the powers which can be exercised by the KAT established under the said Act of 1976, it has all the trappings of the Court. Moreover, the members of the KAT have the power to give a decision by a definitive judgment which is in the nature of a judicial pronouncement and therefore, the KAT will have to be held to be a 'Court' within the meaning of the said Act of 1971.
The bench on perusal of section 10 of the Contempt of courts act said "The words used are "courts subordinate to it". This power conferred on High Court under the said Act of 1971 to punish a person for contempt of the orders passed by a Court can be exercised provided the concerned Court is subordinate to it."
It added "The power to constitute the KAT is vesting in the State Government under sub-section (1) of Section 3. Thus, the power of establishing the Tribunal and appointing its members including the Chairman vests in the State Government. Considering the provisions of Article 235 of the Constitution of India, while appointing District Judges as the Members of the KAT, a consultation with the High Court is mandatory. The consultation in this case will have to be construed as concurrence as the deputation of a District Judge as a member of the KAT can be made only by the High Court. The provisions of the said Act of 1976 do not provide for any administrative control by the High Court over the KAT."
The bench opined "We have also perused the provisions of the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal Regulations, 1979. Even the Regulations do not suggest that the High Court retains any administrative control over the KAT. The KAT established under the said Act of 1976 being a Tribunal, in view of Article 227 of the Constitution of India, the High Court shall have the power of superintendence. However, the said Tribunal cannot be said to be a Court which is subordinate to the High Court the administrative control of which vests in the High Court.
Accordingly it ordered "Hence, no case is made out to initiate action under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The contempt petition is accordingly disposed of. However, the other remedies of the complainant, if any, are expressly kept open."
Case Title: LALSAB S/O NABISAB NADAF And C. M. KAMA
Case No: C.C.C NO.695 OF 2020 (CIVIL)
Date of Order: 5TH DAY OF FEBRUARY, 2021
Coram: Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum.
Appearance: Advocate CHANDRASHEKAR .P. PATIL for complainant