SC asks CBI to locate address of US-based man sentenced to six months in jail

The Supreme Court on Friday asked the CBI to locate the 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.

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.

During the hearing on Friday before a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka, the counsel representing the CBI said the address given by the man was found to be incorrect.

The CBI counsel said that the man is an American citizen and the probe agency will have to take assistance from the authorities concerned there to bring him back.

“Counsel for CBI says that the address given by the respondent (man) is also incorrect. Though they are taking steps in Indian court, ultimately they will have to locate the address,” the bench said.

It said if the CBI would interact with its counterparts in the US, and considering that he has already filed some proceedings in a US court, it should not be such a difficult exercise to obtain his address.

“The CBI may even take recourse to whatever contacts it has in the US even otherwise for the purposes of obtaining his address,” the bench said.

The apex court noted that neither the man appeared before it virtually nor his counsel was present for the hearing.

When the CBI’s counsel said the address given by the man was incorrect, the bench observed he will have to be traced.

“Ultimately, you have to start extradition,” the bench said, adding, “You will have to make some inquiry… to at least try to locate his address.”

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on October 9.

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 apex court 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.

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.

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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.

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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