Process of verification of address of US-based contemnor underway: CBI to SC

The CBI informed the Supreme Court on Monday the process of verification of address of a man, who is a resident of the United States since 2004 and was sentenced to six months in jail for his “contumacious conduct” by the apex court, is in progress.

The top court had on May 16 this year sentenced the man to six months in jail and directed the Centre and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take all possible steps to secure his presence in India with a view to ensuring that he undergoes the sentence and pays the fine of Rs 25 lakh imposed on him.

The apex court had in January held the man guilty of contempt for his failure to bring back his son to India in terms of a court order.

It had held the man guilty while hearing a contempt petition filed by a woman who had married him in 2007 and alleged that he had breached the undertaking recorded in the May 2022 order passed by the court.

During the hearing on Monday before a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka, the counsel representing the CBI said the US address given by the man was found to be incorrect and now they were making efforts to verify the man’s address as given by the petitioner’s father.

The CBI’s counsel said the probe agency has taken up the matter with the Interpol and the authorities concerned in the US, and the process of verification of the address is in progress.

The apex court listed the matter for November 20 for reviewing the progress in the case.

Meanwhile, the lawyer representing the man moved an application seeking to be discharged from the case as his counsel. The court, however, rejected it.

The bench had earlier said the CBI may take recourse to whatever contacts it has in the US even otherwise for obtaining his address.

It had noted that neither the man appeared before it virtually nor his counsel was present for the last hearing.

In its May 16 order, the apex court had said, “Considering his contumacious conduct, we propose to direct the contemnor to pay a fine of Rs 25 lakh and to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of six months for committing civil and criminal contempt.”

It had said in case of default in the payment of the fine amount, he will have to undergo a further sentence of simple imprisonment for two months.

The court had noted that the contempt petition filed by the woman was an outcome of an unfortunate matrimonial dispute and “as it happens in every such dispute, the child is the worst sufferer”.

It had said as a result of the “breaches” committed by the man, the woman was deprived of the custody of her 12-year-old son to which she was entitled in terms of the May 2022 order.

According to the terms of settlement recorded in that order, the child, who was studying in Class 6 at that time, shall continue to live in Ajmer and complete his education up to Class 10 and thereafter, he shall be shifted to the US where his father is residing.

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It was also agreed that until the child completes his education up to Class 10, he would visit Canada and the US with his father every year from June 1 to June 30.

The bench had noted in its January order that the man came to Ajmer on June 7 last year and took his son with him to Canada, but failed to bring him back to India.

In its verdict delivered in May, the bench had noted that in terms of the undertaking given by the contemnor and the orders passed by the apex court, he was under an obligation to bring back the child to India on July 1 last year.

It had also taken note of the submissions of the contemnor’s counsel that as the child was subjected to alleged sexual abuse while he was staying with his mother in India, a forensic investigation is in progress in the US and, therefore, the minor cannot be brought back to India unless the probe is over.

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