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'Frequent & Causal Summoning Of High Officials By Court Cannot Be Appreciated': Supreme Court

Akshita Saxena
7 April 2021 8:50 AM GMT
Frequent & Causal Summoning Of High Officials By Court Cannot Be Appreciated: Supreme Court
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"The frequent, causal and lackadaisical summoning of high officials by the Court cannot be appreciated," the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday in a SLP filed by the UP Government against a summoning order passed by the Allahabad High Court in a contempt case. The remarks were made by a Division Bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta on being informed that...

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"The frequent, causal and lackadaisical summoning of high officials by the Court cannot be appreciated," the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday in a SLP filed by the UP Government against a summoning order passed by the Allahabad High Court in a contempt case.

The remarks were made by a Division Bench comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta on being informed that the High Court decided to proceed with the contempt petition and summoned the concerned Govt officers in person, even though the main order against which contempt was filed had been stayed by the Top Court.

"To say the least, we are quite shocked at the perusal of the order dated 02.03.2021. Once the operation of the order has been stayed, the natural consequence would be that the contempt proceedings would be kept in abeyance," the Bench said.

The impugned summoning order dated 02.03.2021 was passed by a Single Bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh. Vide the said order, it had sought personal appearance of the Additional Chief Secretary, Medical, Health and Family Welfare, Government of UP and Director General, Medical & Health, UP.

The Top Court noted that the summoning order dated was not passed by the High Court in ignorance of its stay order dated 22.02.2021 and that the same was brought to notice of the Judge dealing with the contempt petition.

In this backdrop the Bench observed,

"Once the order of which contempt was alleged was stayed, there would be no cause for calling the officers as there was no question of any non-compliance of the order which had been stayed. This Court has even on various occasions through judicial pronouncements deprecated the practice of unnecessarily calling officers to Court. In that context, it has been observed that the trust, faith and confidence of the common man in the judiciary cannot be frittered away by unnecessary and unwarranted show or exercise of power."

The Division Bench cautioned the High Court to exercise its power with responsibility and to summon the officers only in compelling situations and not merely to humiliate them.

It observed that if a judicial order is not complied with, presence of officers can be directed. However, if the operation of the order is stayed, no useful purpose would be served by calling the officers.

The order stated,

"The frequent, causal and lackadaisical summoning of high officials by the Court cannot be appreciated. We may add that this does not mean that in compelling situations the same cannot be done but the object cannot be to humiliate senior officials."

In the instant case, the Bench wondered that since the main order in a service matter was stayed, and no specific date had been fixed by the Court post the stay having been granted, what purpose was being served by calling the officers?

"This is unnecessary harassment of the officers," it remarked while imposing a stay on the contempt proceedings.

The Apex Court also made it clear that as and when, if the occasion so arises, for restarting the contempt proceedings, the matter will be placed before a Bench of another Judge at the High Court.

Case Title: State of UP & Ors. v. Manoj Kumar Sharma

Citation: LL 2021 SC 199

Click Here To Download Order

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