//
you're reading...
legal issues

Contempt of court – when apology tendered is a bona fide one , court should not reject the same- All Dismissal main cases should not absolve the liability of contemnor = – T.C. GUPTA … APPELLANT (S) VERSUS BIMAL KUMAR DUTTA & ORS. … RESPONDENT(S) – http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40900

Contempt of court – when apology tendered is a bona fide one , court should not reject the same-

 

English: The supreme court of india. Taken abo...

English: The supreme court of india. Taken about 170 m from the main building outside the perimeter wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

All Dismissal of main cases should not absolve the liability of contemnor  but it can be considered as mitigating factor =

 

 

 

The explanation to Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts  Act,  1971,   makes it clear that an apology tendered by a  contemnor  should  not  be  rejected merely on the ground that it is qualified or conditional so long it is  made bona fide.  

 

 

 

In his reply, the appellant, after  offering  his  explanations,

 

had tendered his unconditional and unqualified  apology  in  the  event  the

 

explanations did not commend for acceptance  of  the  High  Court.  

 

 In  the

 

decision rendered in 

 

O.P.Sharma and  Ors.  Vs.  High  Court  of  Punjab  and

 

Haryana[1],

 

this Court has already held that in view of the  explanation  to

 

Section 12 of the Contempt  of  Courts  Act  an  apology  ought  not  to  be

 

rejected only on the ground that it is qualified so long as it is made  bona

 

fide.  In the present case there is nothing on record to  suggest  that  the

 

unqualified and unconditional apology  tendered  by  the  appellant  in  his

 

reply before the High Court was actuated by reasons that are not bona fide.

 

 

 

12.   It has also been noticed by us that the writ  petition  in  which  the

 

interim  order  dated  18.08.2011  came  to  be  passed  has  been   finally

 

terminated by an order dated 30.10.2012 dismissing  the  writ  petition  and

 

also that the said order has attained finality  in  law.  

 

 This  is  another

 

relevant circumstance that  cannot  be  ignored  though  

 

we  should  not  be

 

understood to be saying that 

 

all cases of dismissal of  the  writ  petition,

 

by itself, would  absolve  a  contemnor  of  the  charge  of  commission  of contempt in respect of an interim order passed while the writ  petition  had remained pending.

 

 

 

13.   In view of the aforesaid, we are unable to  sustain  the  order  dated

 

23.07.2012 passed by the High Court.  We  accordingly  set  aside  the  said

 

order dated 23.07.2012 and allow the appeal.

 

REPORTABLE

 

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.9476 OF 2013
(Arising Out of SLP (C) No.22500 of 2012)

 
T.C. GUPTA … APPELLANT (S)

 

VERSUS

 

BIMAL KUMAR DUTTA & ORS. … RESPONDENT(S)

 

 

 

J U D G M E N T

 
RANJAN GOGOI, J.

 

1. Leave granted.
2. By its order dated 23.07.2012 the High Court of Punjab and Haryana
has found the appellant guilty of commission of contempt in respect of an
order dated 18.08.2011 passed in Civil Misc. No.10994 of 2011 arising out
of Writ Petition (C) No.11684 of 2011. Consequently, the appellant was
summoned to appear before the High Court on 30.07.2012 for hearing before
pronouncement of order on the punishment to be imposed. Aggrieved, the
present appeal has been filed.

 

3. The facts that will be necessary to be noticed are as follows:
The respondent No.1 herein, as the writ petitioner, instituted a
Public Interest Litigation before the High Court (C.W.P. No.11684 of 2011)
raising a grievance with regard to the Final Development Plan 2025-AD for
Gurgaon-Manesar Urban Complex published vide Notification No. CCP
(NCR)/FDP(G)/2011/1386 dated 24.05.2011. Specifically, it was contended
that Sectors 63-A and Sector 67-A have been carved out in the Development
Plan contrary to the Zoning Regulations which are required to be followed.
The Final Development Plan, it may be noticed, is prepared under the Punjab
Scheduled Roads and Controlled Areas Restriction of Unregulated Development
Act, 1963 (hereinafter referred to as the Act of 1963).

 

4. Notice on the writ petition was issued by the High Court on
8.07.2011. Thereafter, on 11.08.2011 Civil Misc. Application No.10994 of
2011 was filed before the High Court for stay of the implementation of the
Final Development Plan “in view of contemplated grant of licence to the
colonizers/developers/societies.” On 18.08.2011 the following order was
passed by the High Court in C.M.No.10994 of 2011:

 

“Notice for the date fixed.
Mr. Anil Rathee, Addl. A.G., Haryana, present in Court, accepts
notice.
In the meanwhile, there will be status quo as to allotment as on
today.”

 
5. Though an application to vacate the aforesaid interim order was filed
by the Respondents in the writ petition the interim order was neither
vacated nor modified by the High Court and continued to remain in force.
While the matter was so situated the appellant who then serving as the
Director General, Town & Country Planning, Haryana, had granted a licence
dated 28.12.2011 for setting up of a Residential Plotted Colony on land
measuring 100.262 acres falling in Sector 63-A of the Gurgaon-Manesar.
The aforesaid grant of licence [under the Haryana Development and
Regulations of Urban Areas Act, 1975] (hereinafter referred to as ‘Haryana
Act of 1975’) by the appellant had led to the institution of the contempt
proceeding in question which was registered as C.O.C.P. No.120 of 2012.
The said action was initiated on the basis that the grant of the licence
dated 28.12.2011 by the appellant is in violation of the order of the Court
dated 18.08.2011.

 

6. The appellant had filed his response in the contempt proceeding
contending that no allotment was made by him or by any other authority so
as to constitute violation of the order of the High Court dated 18.08.2011.
The appellant, in his reply, further stated that in every residential
sector, a maximum of 20% of the net planned area was earmarked for group
housing and 3.5% for commercial purposes whereas for plotted residential
colonies there was no restriction except the requirement of a minimum area
of 100 acres. It was also stated that while the applications for group
housing and commercial activities was to be accorded priority on the basis
of date of application the same was not so in respect of applications for
plotted colonies which are to be considered and licences are to be granted
on fulfilment of the conditions prescribed. It was further stated by the
appellant that though not specifically prohibited by the order dated
18.08.2011, out of sheer deference, no licence has been granted or
contemplated for group housing colony/commercial colony as such licences
can be granted upto a maximum limit of the net planned areas. Licences for
plotted colonies, according to the appellant, stood on a different footing
inasmuch as for grant of such licences no ceiling limit exists. After
offering the aforesaid explanations, in the penultimate paragraph of the
reply the appellant had tendered his unqualified and unconditional apology
in the following terms:

 

‘It is humbly submitted that the answering deponent has
unfailing regard for this Hon’ble Court and all others courts of India
and cannot think of disobeying any order passed by the Hon’ble Law
Court. It is an article of faith for them to respect the orders
passed by the Hon’ble Courts. However, if this Hon’ble Court still
comes to the conclusion that the answering deponent has committed any
contempt of court, the deponent tender unqualified and unconditional
apology for the same.’

 
7. The High Court, on consideration of its interim order dated
18.08.2011 and response of the appellant referred to above, came to the
conclusion that its order dated 18.08.2011 has to be understood to have
imposed a comprehensive embargo on issuance of all kinds of licences and,
therefore, the grant of licence dated 28.12.2011, though for a plotted
housing colony, amounted to violation of the order dated 18.08.2011.
Accordingly, the High Court held the appellant guilty of commission of
contempt and passed orders for his personal appearance for hearing on the
quantum of punishment.

 

8. We have heard Mr.Goolam E. Vahanvati, learned Attorney General for
India, appearing for the appellant, Mr. Kamal Mohan Gupta, learned
counsel for the respondent No.2 and Mr. Soli J. Sorabjee, learned senior
counsel for the respondent No.3. None has appeared on behalf of the first
respondent i.e. writ contempt petitioner before the High Court.

 

9. It is the common ground of the learned counsels appearing for the
contesting parties that the interim order of the High Court dated
18.08.2011 had only restrained the concerned authority from making any
allotments. Admittedly, no allotment(s) were made. There was no specific
order prohibiting the implementation of the development plan, though such a
relief was prayed for before the High Court. It is urged that the
appellant, in his reply, had set out the manner in which he had understood
the order dated 18.08.2011, namely, that the said order had not placed any
kind of prohibition on grant of licences under the Haryana Act of 1975.
Yet, out of deference to the order of High Court, no licence either for
group housing or commercial activities in either Sector 63-A or 67-A was
issued or granted and the entire of the earmarked land in both these
sectors for Group Housing and Commercial purposes was kept vacant. Only in
respect of plotted colonies for which there was no ceiling limit the
licence dated 28.12.2011 was issued. It is further urged that in the light
of the specific order passed by the High Court it cannot be said that the
appellant or any other person or authority had violated the same. It is
also pointed out by the learned counsels that, in any view of the matter,
the appellant had tendered his unqualified and unconditional apology which,
in fitness of things, ought to have been accepted by the High Court.
Lastly, the learned Attorney General, by drawing the Court’s attention to
the counter affidavit filed before this Court by the second respondent, has
submitted that the writ petition itself had been dismissed by the High
Court on 30.10.2012 holding that the validity of the development plan
published by the Government in accordance with the relevant provisions of
the Statute is not open to challenge by means of a Public Interest
Litigation. It is also pointed out that the aforesaid order of the High
Court has attained finality in law.

 

10. The terms of the order of the High Court dated 18.08.2011; the
averments/statements made in the contempt petition and the reply thereto on
behalf of the appellant as well as the subsequent facts placed before us
have received our due and anxious consideration. The interim order of the
High Court had directed status quo to be maintained in respect of
allotments. Admittedly, no allotments had been made by the appellant or
any other authority. A contempt action being in the nature of quasi
criminal proceeding the degree of satisfaction that must be reached by the
Court to hold a person guilty of commission of contempt would be akin to
what is required to prove a criminal charge, namely, proof beyond
reasonable doubt. The order of the Court in respect of which violation is
alleged must, therefore, be clear, unambiguous and unequivocal and defiance
thereof must be apparent on the very face of the action with which a
contemnor is charged. An interpretation of the terms of Court’s order in
respect of which disobedience is alleged would not be appropriate while
dealing with a charge of contempt. Such a charge cannot be brought home by
unravelling the true meaning of the Court’s order by a subsequent order
when there is an apparent ambiguity, lack of clarity or dichotomy in the
initial order. In a situation like the present where the High Court had
directed maintenance of status quo as to allotment when the interim prayer
was to stay the implementation of the final development plan “in view of
contemplated grant of licence to the colonizers/developers/Societies” it
was not open for the High Court to hold the contemnor guilty of commission
of contempt by understanding the order dated 18.08.2011 to mean status quo
or a restraint in respect of grant of licences under the Haryana Act of
1975.

 

11. In an earlier part of the present order, we have noticed the
unqualified and unconditional apology tendered by the appellant before the
High Court in the event his explanations were to be found unacceptable.
The explanation to Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, makes
it clear that an apology tendered by a contemnor should not be rejected
merely on the ground that it is qualified or conditional so long it is made
bona fide. In his reply, the appellant, after offering his explanations,
had tendered his unconditional and unqualified apology in the event the
explanations did not commend for acceptance of the High Court. In the
decision rendered in O.P.Sharma and Ors. Vs. High Court of Punjab and
Haryana[1], this Court has already held that in view of the explanation to
Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act an apology ought not to be
rejected only on the ground that it is qualified so long as it is made bona
fide. In the present case there is nothing on record to suggest that the
unqualified and unconditional apology tendered by the appellant in his
reply before the High Court was actuated by reasons that are not bona fide.

 

12. It has also been noticed by us that the writ petition in which the
interim order dated 18.08.2011 came to be passed has been finally
terminated by an order dated 30.10.2012 dismissing the writ petition and
also that the said order has attained finality in law. This is another
relevant circumstance that cannot be ignored though we should not be
understood to be saying that all cases of dismissal of the writ petition,
by itself, would absolve a contemnor of the charge of commission of
contempt in respect of an interim order passed while the writ petition had
remained pending.

 

13. In view of the aforesaid, we are unable to sustain the order dated
23.07.2012 passed by the High Court. We accordingly set aside the said
order dated 23.07.2012 and allow the appeal.

 
…………………………CJI.
[P. SATHASIVAM]

 

 

 
……………………………J.
[RANJAN GOGOI]
New Delhi,
October 25, 2013.
———————–
[1] (2011) 6 SCC 86 [para 34 and 35]

 

———————–
8

 

 

 

Advertisements

About advocatemmmohan

ADVOCATE

Discussion

Comments are closed.

Blog Stats

  • 1,852,888 hits

ADVOCATE MMMOHAN

archieves

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,868 other followers

Follow advocatemmmohan on WordPress.com