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Municipality Secretary Arrested & Produced Before Kerala High Court For Repeatedly Failing To Appear In Contempt Case

Hannah M Varghese
30 March 2022 7:23 AM GMT
Municipality Secretary Arrested & Produced Before Kerala High Court For Repeatedly Failing To Appear In Contempt Case
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Pathanamthitta Municipal Corporation Secretary Sherla Beegam was arrested and produced before the Kerala High Court on Wednesday in a contempt case for her failure to appear before the court despite being summoned several times. After she was produced, Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan asked her not to repeat this behaviour in the future and to seek an appeal or review if she was not content...

Pathanamthitta Municipal Corporation Secretary Sherla Beegam was arrested and produced before the Kerala High Court on Wednesday in a contempt case for her failure to appear before the court despite being summoned several times. 

After she was produced, Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan asked her not to repeat this behaviour in the future and to seek an appeal or review if she was not content with the order passed in the case instead of refusing to cooperate with the Court proceedings. 

The petitioners had approached the Court seeking consideration of their application for a building permit. Alleging that the construction undertaken by the petitioners was made by encroaching upon the Government's land, the same was rejected by the Corporation. However, the Court in July 2021, directed the Municipality to consider the application within 7 days.

Since this was not complied with, the petitioners moved a contempt petition before the Court. Justice Kunhikrishnan opined that prima facie it appeared to be a case of contempt and directed the respondent to appear in person by March 14 if the directions are not complied with by then. 

However, when the matter was taken up on March 14, since there was no appearance, the Court asked the Registry to ascertain if service was complete to the respondent and the matter was adjourned to March 16. 

On March 16, the Registry informed the Court that service was complete in the case. Yet there was no appearance of the respondent. Accordingly, it issued a bailable warrant to arrest the Corporation Secretary and directed that she be produced before the Court on March 28. The District Police Chief was suo motu impleaded and authorised to affect the said arrest. 

It was also recorded that after the arrest, if the Secretary was ready to appear before the Court, she can be released on bail after executing a bond to the effect that she will appear before this Court on March 28.

Two days later, the counsel on behalf of the respondent sought for the case to be heard and argued the matter in detail. However, even after hearing the respondents, the Single Judge was of the prima facie opinion that the respondent committed contempt. 

"Almost eight months over after the judgment delivered. Even now the directions are not complied. Hence no change is necessary to the order dated 18.03.2022. I make it clear that the respondent is free to comply the order in the meanwhile and report before this Court."

As such, she was produced before the court today.

Advocates Peeyus A Kottam, Joseph P.P, Jomon J. Maliekal and Arjun S. Benedict appeared for the petitioner while the respondent was represented by Advocate George Abraham Pachayil. 

Case Title: Suma Devi v. S. Sherla Beegam

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