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Sanctity Of Judicial Proceedings Is Paramount, Otherwise, The Very Edifice Of Democracy Breaks, And Anarchy Reigns: Telangana High Court

Shrutika Pandey
11 May 2022 6:48 AM GMT
Sanctity Of Judicial Proceedings Is Paramount, Otherwise, The Very Edifice Of Democracy Breaks, And Anarchy Reigns: Telangana High Court

The Telangana High Court recently observed that the sanctity of judicial proceedings is paramount to a society governed by law. Otherwise, the very edifice of democracy breaks, and anarchy reigns. A Division Bench of Justices P. Naveen Rao and M.G. Priyadarsini noted that,

"To hold a person guilty of civil contempt 'wilful disobedience' is an indispensable requirement. Whether the conduct of contemnor is deliberate and wilful can be considered by assessing the material on record and attendant circumstances."

Relying on Anil Ratak Sarkar v. Hirak Ghosh and other cases, the Court noted that there could be no laxity, as otherwise, orders of the court would be the subject of mockery. "Disobedience of orders of the Court strikes at the very root of the rule of law on which the judicial system rests," it added.

It is alleged that the appellants sold some of the suit-scheduled properties despite the decree granted to her by the Trial Court and trying to alienate some more. The appellant an interim application praying grant of injunction against the respondents not to alienate suit schedule properties.

When the IA came for consideration, taking note that the appellants were resorting to selling the suit schedule properties, the Division Bench granted an injunction restraining the respondents/appellants from executing any further documents concerning the land in the aforestated survey number, pending further orders.

Through this contempt case, the petitioner alleges that in violation of the decree granted by the Trial Court and interim orders, the respondent has gone ahead to sell 177 sq yards of the land. It was contended that the said act was done willfully and violated the orders of the Court and thus committed contempt of court.

The Court observed that once an order is passed by the Court, the order must be complied/observed in true letter and spirit. Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 defines 'civil contempt' to mean wilful disobedience of any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ, or other processes of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a Court.

The Court referred to the case of Jagarlmudi Chandramouli v. K.Appa Rao, where it was held that disobedience of an order of the court, whether prohibitive or mandatory, whether made ex parte or upon hearing both parties, or interim or perpetual, amounts to contempt if it is calculated or tends to interfere with the administration of justice, or brings it into disrespect or disregard. It also referred to the case of Kapildeo Prasad Sah v. State of Bihar, where it was held that the power to punish for contempt is exercised to prevent the perversion of the course of justice.

Relying on Reliance Petrochemicals Ltd c. Proprietors of Indian Express Newspapers Bombay (P) Ltd., it was noted that any interference with the course of justice is an affront to the majesty of law and the conduct of interference is punishable as contempt of court. Public interest demands that there should be no interference with the judicial process, and the effect of the judicial decision should not be pre-empted or circumvented. The Court added,

"If a party, who is fully in the know of the judgment/order of the Court, is conscious and aware of the consequences and implications of the order of the Court, acts in violation thereof, it must be held that disobedience is wilful. To establish contempt of court, it is sufficient to prove that the conduct was willful and that the contemnor knew of all the facts which made it a breach of the undertaking."

It was noted in Patel Rajnikant Dhulabahai v. Patel Chandra Dhulabhai that the following conditions must be satisfied before a person can be held to have committed civil contempt: (i) there must be a judgment, decree, direction, order, writ, or another process of a court; (ii) there must be disobedience to such judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or another process of a court; and (iii) such disobedience of the judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or another process of a court must be wilful.

Whether offering an apology is bona fide to purge the petitioner from contempt was considered.

The Court noted that Section 12(1) of the Contempt of Courts Act and its explanation enables the Court to remit the punishment awarded for committing contempt of court on an apology being made to the satisfaction of the Court. Referring to Bal Kishan Giri v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the Court noted that

"While an apology should not be rejected if the accused makes it bona fides, a conduct which abuses, and makes amockery of, the judicial process of the Court must be dealt with iron hand."

It was held that an apology could neither be a defence nor a justification for an act tantamount to the Court's contempt. An apology can be accepted in cases where the conduct for which the apology is given is such that it can be "ignored without compromising the court's dignity," or it is intended to be evidence of real contrition. It should be sincere.

"Apology cannot be accepted in case it is hollow; there is no remorse, no regret, no repentance, or if it is only a device to escape the rigor of the law. Such an apology is merely a "paper apology," it added.

It was noted that in the instant case, the apology offered was not sincere and bonafide. It was made only to escape the consequence of deliberate and willful disobedience of the order of the Court. The Court observed,

"Contemnors did not accept their mistake and expressed apology at the first opportunity offered to them. The conduct of contemnors as noted above cannot be ignored while considering their apology. Thus, it does not amount to full and frank admission of wrong done. It is a paper apology made without any sincerity, it is hallowed."

The Court applied the 'slap- say sorry- forget cannot be accepted' principle from the case of L.D. Jaiswal v. State of Uttar Pradesh. Noting that there is no remorse in the behavior of the contemnors, considering the gravity of offence, they were held guilty of contempt, and their apology was rejected.

Case Title: Veldana Srilatha v. Gundumalla Anantha Reddy

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Tel) 41

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