Allahabad HC- Order Framing Charges in Contempt Not Appealable

A Division bench of the Allahabad High Court comprising Hon’ble Mr Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Hon’ble Mr Justice Samit Gopal passed an order in a contempt appeal that was placed before them.

The issue before the Court was “Whether contempt appeal was maintainable under Section 19 of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971?”

Arguments of the counsels

The Counsel representing respondents no.1 and 2 relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in Midnapore People’s Co-operative Bank vs Chunnilal Nanda, (2006) 5 SCC 399 and submitted that the contempt appeal was not maintainable.

In order to counter the arguments raised by respondents no.1 and 2, the Counsel for the appellant argued that Midnapore judgement was passed without referring to R.N Dey and others vs Bhagyabati Pramanik and others, 2000 (4) SCC 400, where the Court held that the orders passed by the Contempt Court in the exercise of jurisdiction to punish, an appeal under Section 19 of the Act would be maintainable. The Counsel further submitted that even if the order of punishment had not been passed, the appeal would be maintainable based on the orders passed prior to the order of punishment.

The Court’s Analysis

The very first thing that the Court reiterated was the fact that an appeal is the creature of a statute. The Court also observed that an appeal could only be filed in respect of orders against which a right to appeal is conferred under the statute.

The Court took note of the Midnapore case, and laid emphasis on the fact that an appeal under Section 19 is maintainable against an order or decision of the High Court passed in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt, i.e. “an order imposing punishment for contempt”. 

The Counsel had also referred to the Sandhya Updhayay case. The Court clarified that contempt proceedings were quasi-criminal. The Court observed that when a court frames charges, it is inevitable for the Court to not to delve into the merits of the case. However, it does not affect any substantive right of the contemnor.

The Court opined that the issue of maintainability of a contempt appeal was settled in the Midnapore case and the Court agrees with the same.

The decision of the Court

In light of all the submissions and rulings , the Court dismissed the appeals as not maintainable.

Case Details

Title:- Dr Ashwini Kumar Singh vs Dr Sandeep Kumar and others (and connected appeals)

Case No. No.6/2019 (lead appeal)

Date of Order:- 14.2.2020

Quorum: Hon’ble Mr Justice Pankaj Naqvi and Hon’ble Mr Justice Samit Gopal

Advocates:- Counsel for Appellant:­ Navin Sinha, Vimlendu Tripathi; Counsel for Respondents:­ Ashok Khare, Siddharth Khare, Manish Goyal, K.K. Rao, Kshitij Shailendra, V.K. Upadhyaya, Krishna Raj Jadaun (Lead Appeal)

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