Nobody can be allowed to trounce law’s majesty: Delhi HC

Nobody can be allowed to trounce law’s majesty and pollute the streams of justice through contumacious conduct aimed at hoodwinking the judicial system, the Delhi High Court has said while sending a man to jail for six months for contempt of court.

Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav stated that rule of law needs to be preserved with full vigour to maintain the sanctity of judicial proceedings and wilful disregard has to be examined, lest it undermines the dignity of the judiciary in the eyes of the common man.

The judge held that the contemnor in the instant matter was guilty of contempt for “wilfully disobeying his undertakings” before the high court to pay a compensation amount of around Rs 13 lakh to the widow of his deceased driver.

According to claimant wife, her deceased husband, who was drawing a salary of Rs 15,000 per month, had made requests to the contemnor to clear his dues after he did not receive any payment from May 2013.

It was claimed that the contemnor got “annoyed” at the request and assaulted the deceased who “disappeared” in January 2015 and subsequently his body was found hanging on a tree.

The wife filed a petition in the high court in 2019 seeking implementation of a 2017 order of Commissioner, Employee’s Compensation, Labour Department in her favour. Last year, a suo motu contempt petition was registered by the high court in the matter.

In its order passed last week, Justice Kaurav said that the contemnor did not even make “miniscule of efforts” to abide by his own undertakings with respect to payment.

“The contemnor, not only once but on numerous occasions, had undertaken that he would comply with the directions passed by this court and would make the entire payment as has been awarded to the petitioner…even the said fraction of the total sum has not been paid in full, till date,” observed the court.

“This court is of the opinion that one cannot be allowed to trounce the majesty of law and pollute the streams of justice by brazenly engaging in contumacious conduct with an aim of hoodwinking the judicial system. The edifice of a vibrant constitutional democracy rests on the pillars of rule of law, which needs to be preserved with full vigour to maintain the sanctity of judicial proceedings,” the court said.

The contemnor’s lawyer urged the court to take a lenient view of the matter, arguing that he has no means to pay the amount and never intended to disobey the undertaking given before this court.

The amicus curiae, who was appointed to assist the court, said the contemnor “actively participated” in the MCD elections held in 2022, as seen from various advertisement material, and was operating a transport business as well as owned immovable properties in Agra.

Holding that the contemnor “has not made even a slightest of endeavour to obey the undertaking”, the court opined that it appeared that he has no respect for the court of law.

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“Even in these contempt proceedings, this court had to issue NBW several times to ensure the presence of the contemnor as he was evading appearance. Therefore, this court is constrained to impose the maximum sentence as the contemnor has repeatedly breached his own undertakings…It is deemed appropriate to punish the contemnor with simple imprisonment for a term of six months,” the court ruled.

It further said mere imposition of the fine would neither serve the purpose of maintaining the dignity of this court nor would be appropriate in the facts and circumstances of the present matter.

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