29 Sep 2021 12:50 PM GMT
The Supreme Court observed that its power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power which cannot be abridged or taken away even by legislative enactment.Motivated and calculated attempts to bring down the image of the judiciary in estimation of public and impair the administration of justice must bester themselves to uphold their dignity and the majesty of law, the Supreme Court...
The Supreme Court observed that its power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power which cannot be abridged or taken away even by legislative enactment.
Motivated and calculated attempts to bring down the image of the judiciary in estimation of public and impair the administration of justice must bester themselves to uphold their dignity and the majesty of law, the Supreme Court observed in the order in which it held Suraz India Trust Chairman Rajiv Daiya guilty of contempt of court for scandalising the Court.
The court observed that the 'raison d'etre' of contempt jurisdiction is to maintain the dignity of the institution of judicial forums.
"It is not a vindictive exercise nor are inappropriate statements by themselves capable of lowering the dignity of a Judge. These are often ignored but where despite all latitude a perennial litigant seeks to justify his existence by throwing mud at all and sundry, the Court has to step in", the court added.
The court said that the easier path was to recuse or give up the matter instead of inviting so much trouble.
"But then that is not the course for which the Judges have taken oath. Sometimes the task is unenviable and difficult but it must be performed for the larger good of the institution. Such litigants cannot be permitted to have their way only because they can plead and write anything they feel like and keep on approbating by sometimes apologising and then again bringing forth those allegations. We have thus chosen the more difficult path.", it said.
Referring to the decision in Re: Roshan Lal Ahuja, the court observed:
"Disparaging remarks and aspersions deliberately and repeatedly made against the Supreme Court and its Judges in memorandum of writ petition and in representation made before the President of India in connection with order of reduction in rank and subsequent dismissal from service of the contemnor was held to bring down the image of judiciary in the estimation of public and to bring administration of justice into disrepute ."
The court also noticed the judgment in Re: Vijay Kurle & Ors and observed that here is no absolute licence when appearing in person to indulge in making aspersions as a tendency to scandalise the Court in relation to judicial matters.
"Motivated and calculated attempts to bring down the image of the judiciary in estimation of public and impair the administration of justice must bester themselves to uphold their dignity and the majesty of law. In the current context if seen, the grievance arises on account of the inability of the contemnor to file public interest petitions on account of costs being imposed, which he claims to be unable to pay and the consequences thereof of not being able to prosecute his petitions, which are large in number. The contemnor has apparently made a profession of filing public interest petitions of subjects of which he may not know much and then seeking to scandalise the Court to grant him relief failing which he will continue to scandalise the Court.", the court added.
Referring to Article 129 and 142 of the Constitution, the court observed:
"A bare reading of Article 129 clearly shows that this Court being a Court of Record shall have all the powers of such a Court of Record including the power to punish for contempt of itself. This is a constitutional power which cannot be taken away or in any manner abridged by statute... In the context of the aforesaid it was opined that the comparison of the two provisions show that whereas the founding fathers felt that the powers under clause (2) of Article 142 could be subject to any law made by the Parliament, there is no such restriction as far as Article 129 is concerned. The power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power vested in this Court which cannot be abridged or taken away even by legislative enactment."
Holding that the contemnor is guilty of contempt, the court observed:
"We have little doubt that what the contemnor has been endeavouring is to have his way or, alternatively, I will throw mud at all and sundry, whether it be the Court, its administrative staff or the State Government so that people, apprehensive of this mud thrown, may back off. We refuse to back off and are clear in our view that we must take it to its logical conclusion.. We are of the view that the contemnor is clearly guilty of contempt of this Court. His actions to scandalise the Court cannot be countenanced. He continues with his contumacious behaviour. The apologies submitted by him are only endeavours to get out of the consequences again followed by another set of allegations, thus, a charade. The last apology can hardly be called an apology seeing the contents. This Court has held that an apology cannot be a defence, a justification can be accepted if it can be ignored without compromising the dignity of the Court."
Case name | Citation : Suraz India Trust vs Union of India | LL 2021 SC 515
Case no. | Date: M.A 1630 of 2020 | 29 September 2021
Coram: Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh
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