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Orissa High Court Dismisses Contempt Petition Instituted By Govt. School Cook Against Former Gajapati Collector D.V. Swamy

Jyoti Prakash Dutta
15 May 2022 8:00 AM GMT
Orissa High Court Dismisses Contempt Petition Instituted By Govt. School Cook Against Former Gajapati Collector D.V. Swamy
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The Orissa High Court has recently dismissed a contempt petition filed by a Cook-cum-Attendant of a Government High School, against the former Collector-cum-District Magistrate, Gajapati Mr. D.V. Swamy. While rejecting contentions made by the petitioner, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik held, "Merely because the decision rendered...

The Orissa High Court has recently dismissed a contempt petition filed by a Cook-cum-Attendant of a Government High School, against the former Collector-cum-District Magistrate, Gajapati Mr. D.V. Swamy. While rejecting contentions made by the petitioner, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik held,

"Merely because the decision rendered by the Collector pursuant to the order of this Court went against the Petitioner, would not mean that the Collector wilfully disobeyed the order of this Court. The Court is, therefore, not satisfied that there has been any wilful disobedience of the order passed by it."

Factual Background:

The petitioner was working as a Cook-cum-Attendant at the Government High School, Chandragiri, in Gajapati district. Her grievance was that despite working for about 15 years, her services were not being regularized, whereas those junior to her, who had joined the service much later, had been given that benefit.

When several of her representations went unheeded, the petitioner filed a writ petition in the High Court which was disposed of on 18th April, 2007, with a direction to opposite party no. 1 (the Collector, Gajapati) to take a decision on the representations of the petitioner after giving her an opportunity of hearing as regards her regularization in the post she was working. The Court also required the Collector to comply with the order within three months of communication.

According to the petitioner, her advocate informed the Collector, Gajapati of the said order by a letter dated 14th May, 2007. On 21st July, 2007, the Collector wrote to the petitioner asking her to attend a personal hearing on 24th July, 2007 at 3 PM at his residential office. She alleged, despite approaching the opposite parties on several occasions thereafter, nothing was heard. Then, she filed the instant contempt petition.

On 9th January 2017, a show cause affidavit was filed by the opposite party no. 1. From the said affidavit it came to light that the Collector, Gajapati had passed an order on 21st May, 2008, rejecting the representation of the petitioner.

Contentions:

Dr. Sujata Dash, counsel appearing for the petitioner, raised several grievances against the above order. She first submitted that the order-sheet shows that the petitioner appeared for personal hearing on 24th July 2007. However, the petitioner was in fact not given such an opportunity.

Secondly, she highlighted that the opposite parties were to pass appropriate orders within three months from the order dated 18th April 2007, but the aforesaid order was only signed on 21st May, 2008. No such order was in fact communicated to the petitioner despite several representations. Further, it was alleged that the order dated 21st May, 2008 was manipulated "by forging the signature of the Petitioner" or it would have been issued by utilizing the signatures of the petitioner on a blank paper, taking advantage of her vulnerable position.

Court's Observations:

The Court noted that what has been enclosed in the annexure, is a 'photocopy' of the order dated 21st May, 2008. Then, it observed that though on the top it has the words 'Dt. July 20/2007', it is clear that the hearing was afforded to the petitioner only on 24th July, 2007 and the order could have been passed only thereafter. The Court held,

"Merely, because the words 'Dt. July 20/2007' has been typed at the top of the page even before the order begins would not mean that the said order was passed on that date. This could be a typographical mistake. With the date of the order being written in hand by the author below his signature, it is plain that the order was in fact passed on 21st May, 2008."

The Court further noted that the photocopy of the order contains the signature of the petitioner by way of acknowledgment and the petitioner was not able to dispute her signature on the said document. Again, the Court observed that it matches with the signature in the affidavit in support of the instant petition. It denied to accept the argument made by the petitioner that her signature was 'forged'. Accordingly, it held,

"The allegation that the signature was, therefore, 'forged' cannot be accepted. Further, that the Opposite Parties may have "utilized the blank signature paper taking advantage of" the position of the Petitioner also appears to be farfetched. Opposite Party No. 1 is the Collector and the other Opposite Parties are Government officials; there is no need for them to forge the signature or manipulate the documents to make it appear that the Petitioner received a copy thereof. In any event, these are highly disputed questions of fact and it is not possible for this Court to examine them in these proceedings."

Consequently, it rejected the contempt petition by holding,

"Although there is some delay in disposal of the Petitioner's representation, the fact remains that the rejection thereof gives rise to a separate cause of action. The Petitioner was free to challenge that in separate proceedings."

Case Title: Golapi Pradhan v. D.V. Swami, Collector Gajapati & Anr.

Case No.: CONTC No. 544 of 2008

Judgment Dated: 6th May 2022

Coram: Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar & Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik

Judgment Authored By: Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar

Counsel for the Petitioner: Dr. Sujata Dash, Advocate

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. P.K. Muduli, Additional Government Advocate

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 67

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment

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