Non-Bailable Warrant by Kerala HC Against Leader of Kochi-Based Political Outfit

 The Kerala High Court on Tuesday issued a non-bailable warrant against the leader of a political outfit based in the port city of Kochi over his continued “wilful” absence in a contempt case against him, saying judges don’t have the time “to pander to such idiosyncratic behaviour of litigants.”

A bench of Justices A K Jayasankaran Nambiar and Mohammed Nias C P directed the District Police Chief, Ernakulam, to ensure arrest and production of contemnor Nipun Cherian before the court on February 28 at 10.15 AM.

Cherian is the leader of a city-based political outfit called V-4 People.

He is facing trial for criminal contempt of court for making serious allegations of corruption against Kerala High Court judge Justice N Nagaresh with regard to a judgment passed by him.

Cherian had made the allegations in a speech that was uploaded and published in the Facebook page of ‘V4 Kochi’ in October last year.

The bench issued the non-bailable warrant annoyed over his “wilful and continued absence” from the court during the trial in the matter.

“There can be nothing more annoying to a court trying a contempt case than the wilful and continued absence of the respondent contemnor before it.

“Notwithstanding the stern warning that we had issued through our last order dated February 8, 2023, the respondent contemnor Nipun Cherian is not present before us today,” it noted in its order.

The division bench said that courts in the country were overly burdened with litigation “and its judges do not have the time to pander to such idiosyncratic behaviour of litigants”.

“Our citizenry must realise that judges in this country work under enormous pressure owing to the mounting pendency of cases in our courts, and the infrastructural and other constraints that affect the justice delivery system,” the bench said.

It further said that despite the enormous work pressure judges do not react to the “uncharitable and often unjustified” comments from the public about their judicial performance on account of their discipline, training and “the nobility that they possess”.

It is only when confronted with comments or remarks that go well beyond personal attacks, and have the propensity to defame or lower the esteem of the judicial institution itself, that judges respond swiftly with the only weapon in their judicial armoury the proceedings for contempt of court, the high court said.

In the instant matter, the high court said that it had found a prima facie case to proceed against Cherian under Article 215 (power of a high court to punish for contempt of itself) of the Constitution and his conduct during the proceedings “has been far from satisfactory”.

The court said that while it had no wish to speculate as to why his conduct was “irresponsible”, reports given by the High Court Registry indicated that he repeatedly insisted that his party colleagues be allowed to accompany him for hearings and when it was denied, he resorted to heated arguments with security staff and other officials.

“All of this was notwithstanding the fact that he was permitted to appear before us either in person, or along with his lawyer and was also offered sufficient personal security in that regard.

“Such conduct on the part of litigants entering the premises of this hallowed institution, and especially from one who is already facing trial for criminal contempt of this Court, is wholly unacceptable and will not be countenanced under any circumstances,” the bench said.

It cautioned Cherian, his colleagues and followers against any “ill-advised action” during the pursuit of litigation.

At the same time, the court also clarified that it was “not with any sense of pride or megalomania, but with a heavy heart and a feeling of exasperation, that we have ordered for the arrest and production of the respondent contemnor (Cherian)”.

“We do hope that the occasions will be rare, where we are constrained to pass such orders,” it added.

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