B. Sudershan Reddy, J.
1. It is universally agreed amongst the Democratic States that 'Rule of Law' is a vital element in a free democracy. This principle is enshrined in our Constitution and jealously guarded by the Courts. The very concept of 'Rule of Law' encompasses a just legal system and a just legal system has rules, and principles that are understood by those applying them. The Rules apply to all persons. No one should be above the law, and all people should be treated equally as Lord Denning recalled Thomas Fuller's words 'Be you never so high, the law is above you'.
Professor Dicey, observed:
'When we speak of the 'rule of law' as a characteristic of our country, not only that with us no man is above the law but that every man, whatever be his rank or condition, is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals. In England the idea of legal equality, or the universal subjection of all classes to one law administered by the ordinary courts, has been pushed to its utmost limit. With us every official, from Prime Minister down to a constable or a collector of taxes, is under the same responsibility for every act done with legal justification as any other citizen. The reports abound with cases in which officials have been brought before the courts, and made, in their personal capacity, liable to punishment, or to the payment of damages, for acts done in their official character but in excess of their lawful authority. A colonial governor, a secretary of State, a military officer, and all subordinates, though carrying out the commands of their official superiors, are as responsible for any act which the law does not authorise as is a private and unofficial person.' (Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, 10th Edn. 1965, pp.193-194.)
2. Yet another occasion had arisen requiring this Court to discharge its duty of reminding the civil servants in the State of Andhra Pradesh that they too are bound by the dictum 'be you never so high, the law is above you'.
3. Lord Diplock in Attorney-General v. Times Newspapers Limited 1974 Appeal Cases 273. observed:
'In any civilized society it is a function of government to maintain courts of law to which its citizens can have access for the impartial decision of disputes as to their legal rights and obligations towards one another individually and towards the state as representing society as a whole. The provision of such a system for the administration of justice by courts of law and the maintenance of public confidence in it, are essential if citizens are to live together in peaceful association with one another, 'contempt of court' is a generic term descriptive of conduct in relation to particular proceedings in a court of law which tends to undermine that system or to inhibit citizens from availing themselves of it for the settlement of their disputes, contempt of court may thus take many forms........ there is an element of public policy in punishing civil contempt, since the administration of justice would be undermined if the order of any court of law could be disregarded with impunity:........'
4. The Supreme Court of India had an occasion to observe 'it is the people's welfare that the State is primarily concerned with and avoidance of compliance with a specific order of the Court cannot be termed to be a proper working of a State body in terms of the wishes and aspirations of the founding fathers of our Constitution' (Anil Ratan Sarkar and Ors. v. Hirak Ghosh and Ors. : 2002CriLJ1814 .).
5. Contempts of court have traditionally been classified as being either criminal or civil but has never been rigidly maintained, The proceedings for civil contempt are sometimes described as 'quasi- criminal' because of the penal consequences that can attend the breach of an order. In both civil and criminal contempt proceedings, it is the considerations of public policy that underlying the contempt jurisdiction viz., the protection of the administration of justice and the maintenance of the Court's authority. Although 'civil contempt' is concerned with breaches of Court orders or undertakings in civil litigation, for the benefit of the parties, the public interest equally plays an important role.
6. In Jennison v. Baker (1972) 2 QB 52, 61F. Salmon L.J., made an important point that:
'........the public at large no less than the individual litigant have an interest and a very real interest in justice being effectively administered.'
7. It is very well settled that mere disobedience of an order made in a proceeding may not be sufficient to amount to a 'civil contempt' within the meaning of Section 2(b) of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (for short 'the Act'). The element of willingness is an indispensable requirement to bring home the accusation of contempt within the meaning of the Act.
8. It is unnecessary to dilate further on the subject except to notice that the law on this subject is founded entirely on public policy.
9. We shall bear the settled principles in mind and proceed to analyze the action of the respondents for the purpose of ascertaining whether the action of the respondents is wilfull and contumacious: Whereas Sri M.V. Durga Prasad, learned counsel for the petitioners contended that the respondents in a wilful and deliberate manner not only failed to implement the orders passed by this Court but also acted contrary to the judgment, the learned Advocate General and Sri E. Manohar, learned senior counsel appearing for the alleged contemnors, strenuously contended that the facts and circumstances do not attract Section 2(b) of he Act. The learned Advocate General further contended that there may be some delay in complying with the directions of this Court which perse may not amount to committing any act of contempt.
10. The material facts relevant to the questions arising in the contempt case and as well as the writ petitions are summarized as under:
For the sake of convenience, the parties herein will be referred to as they are arrayed in C.C. No. 1384of 2004.
11. The petitioners in the contempt case and W.P. No. 22903 of 2004; are the member- growers of the N.V.R. Co-operative Sugars Limited (for short 'the Society'). The petitioners in the contempt case filed W.P. No. 26875 of 2003 questioning the Constitutional validity of Section 12-A of the A.P. Co-operative Societies Act, 1964 (for short 'the Societies Act') and all the proceedings initiated thereunder, in respect of the said society. This Court vide its order, dated 2S-6-2004, allowed the writ petition in terms of the judgment reported in G. V. Jayachandra Chowdary v. Government of A.P. : 2004(3)ALD474 (D.B.).. The operative portion of the said reported judgment in terms of which the writ petition was allowed is in the following manner:-
'In the result, we;
(a) uphold the constitutional validity of Section 12-A(1), (2) and (9) to (13) and explanations except explanation (h), which defines the 'best offer';
(b) strike ' down explanation (h), which defines 'best offer' as unconstitutional being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India;
(c) do not find any constitutional infirmity in sub-sections (3) to (8) of Section 12-A of the Act, but the concept of 'best offer' as defined in explanation (h) runs through the said provisions and or so inextricably bound up those forming an integral part of the said sub- sections and, therefore, we find it difficult to apply the 'doctrine of severability' and save them. Therefore, sub-sections (3) to (8) are also struck down as unconstitutional being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India;
(d) uphold the decision of the Registrar taken under Section 12-A(1) of the Act alone; and
(e) other consequential decisions are declared void in view of striking down of explanation 'h' and as well as sub-sections (3) to (8) of Section 12-A of the Act.'
12. In view of the above decision, not only sub-sections (3) to (8) of Section 12-A of the Societies Act were declared void but all other consequential decisions were also declared void in view of striking down of explanation 'h' as well as sub-sections (3) to (8) of Section 12-A of the Societies Act.
13. Therefore, the decision of the 3rd respondent herein approving the best offer under sub-section (5) of Section 12-A of the Societies Act in favour of the 5th respondent and all other consequential directions stood declared void.
14. We are also required to notice that on the same day i.e. on 29-6-2004, this Court disposed of W.P. No. 10104 of 2004 filed by the Chairman and Members of the Managing Committee of the said Society in terms of the same directions with a further observation that the respondents are bound to implement the judgment of this Court in G.V. Jayachandra Chowdary's case (5 supra). The observation so made were in the context of the contention that the respondents herein were bound to restore the elected members of the Managing Committee of the Society, back into their office and permit them to function as the members of the Managing Committee.
15. The gravamen of the complaint in the contempt case and as well as the writ petition is that in spite of such categorical declaration of law and the consequential directions issued, respondents 1 to 4 in order to support the claim of the 5th respondent went on issuing the proceedings after proceedings facilitating his continuance to operate the sugar factory contrary to the directions of this Court. It was submitted that mere pendency of an appeal preferred by respondents 1 to 4 and as well as a separate appeal by the 5th respondent itself may not operate as a stay of operation of a binding judgment and it is not an excuse for not complying with the judgment of this Court. The case set up by them is that the respondents with impunity and in a wilful and deliberate manner failed to comply with the directions and their conduct amounts to wilful disobedience of the orders passed by this Court on 29-6-2004. At any rate, the respondents were bound to comply with the directions of this Court after the Supreme Court rejected their prayer for grant of stay of operation of the judgment vide its order, dated 27-9-2004, while granting leave to prefer appeal. Respondents 1 to 4 created a situation and deliberately so facilitating the 5th respondent to commence the crushing operations, annual repairs and from entering into suitable agreements with the members/ farmers/sugar cane growers which has resulted in utter confusion and chaos.
16. In order to appreciate the nature of controversy and to decide whether respondents 1 to 5 have wilfully disobeyed the orders passed by this Court, it would be just and necessary to notice chronology of events about which there is no dispute.
16-12-2003 The Registrar passed Order under Section 12-A(5) of the Societies Act
accepting the best offer of respondent No. 5 subject to fulfilment of
conditions mentioned therein including registration of transfer deed and
disbursement of the amount as per sub-section (9) of Section 12-A of the
19-12-2003 Letter of the Registrar to Respondent No. 5 to sign the agreement and
informing that on receipt of payment of Rs. 18.09 crores for assets, the
transfer order will be notified in the A.P. Gazette and physical
possession will be delivered;
24-12-2003 Writ Petition No. 26875 of 2003 filed questioning the validity of
Section 12-A of the Societies Act and the actions taken thereunder;
26-12-2003 The 3rd respondent's Lr. No. 10392/G4/2003, dated 26-12-2003 authorising
the 4th respondent to sign the agreement;
27-12-2003 Sale and Purchase agreement by the 5th respondent with the 4th respondent,
Managing Director (an employee) of the Society, (Clause 2.7) verification
of the assets, (clause 4) and conveyance by registered document (7.1 .ii),
completion date is fixed as 31-1-2004 or a later date if clause 7 is not
satisfied. Till date, no transfer deed is executed and no verification of
assets is made;
27-12-2003 The letter bearing No. 10392/G4/2003, dated 27-12-2003 by the 3rd respondent
to the 4th respondent to handover physical possession on 28-12-2003 (Sunday)
to the 5th respondent to enable it to carryout repairs and maintenance work
and start crushing operations for the year 2003-2004. The 4th respondent is
appointed as P.I.C., without gazette notification;
28-12-2003 The alleged delivery of assets, under a panchanama to the 5th respondent (as
per the respondent No. 5's version) by the 4th respondent as P.I.C., without
involvement of the Board of Directors and without verification of assets
and transfer deed etc. Curiously, the 4th respondent described himself as
Managing Director in all subsequent letters and proceedings;
31-12-2003 The Gazette notification of the order under Section 12-A(7) of the Societies
Act stating that the transfer by registered deed would be effected;
3-1-2004 Letter for grant of licence from the 3rd respondent to the 5th respondent;
4-1-2004 The alleged delivery of assets to the 5th respondent as per the Government
version without any basis;
8-1-2004 Status-quo ordered by this Court. The 4th respondent writes to She
Superintendent of Central Excise stating that sugarcane season commenced on
8-1-2004 and requesting to open separate account on behalf of the 5th
6-2-2004 The 3rd respondent addressed letter to the Chief Director, Government of
India, for release orders to the 5th respondent on 28- 12-2003;
10-2-2004 Letter from the 2nd respondent to the 5th respondent to pay salaries from 4-
1-2004 alleging crushing operations were started on that day; Permission to
draw seed by the 3rd respondent;
22-3 -2004 The 4th respondent writes to the United India Insurance Company Limited
questioning the transfer of policy in favour of the 5th respondent without
any request from him;
22-3-2004 Order of the 3rd respondent granting licence to the 5th respondent for five
27-4-2004 Respondent No. 5 refuses to pay salaries to the employees of the 4th
respondent society even for the month of April, 2004 saying that there is no
transfer of employees;
30-4-2004 This Court by judgment reported in G.V. Jayachandra Chowdary's case (5
supra), declared sub-sections (3) to (8) of Section 12-A of the Societies Act
14-6-2004 The petitioner and other members-sugarcane growers filed W.P.M.P. to allow
their Writ Petition in terms of the judgment, dated 30-4-2004, reported in
G.V. Jayachandra Chowdary's case (5 supra);
26-06-2004 Respondent No. 5 filed counter stating delivery of assets on 28-12-2003;
28-6-2004 Respondent No. 3 filed counter alleging delivery on 4-1-2004 and not on 28-
29-6-2004 This Court allowed the writ petition, and refused to grant stay of operation
of judgment as prayed for by the 5th respondent observing that the
allegations of manipulation on the part of the respondents have got basis;
29-6-2004 W.P. No. 10104 of 2004 filed by the elected Board for its restoration was
allowed by the same Division Bench. The elected body got revived by virtue of
the declaration of Sections 12-A (3) to (8) of the Societies Act and actions
thereunder as ultra vires. It has got its term upto 2-4-2005;
28-7-2004 Letter from the Superintendent, Central Excise, to the 4th respondent raising
objections for the request for cancellation of the Central Excise
Registration Certificate and for refund of amount as it was not in order.
Till date, the registration in the name of the Society stands;
9-9-2004 Petitioner and other member-sugarcane growers filed their counter in S.L.P
No. 11822-23/2004 filed by the 5th respondent;
15-9-2004 Letters of the Respondent directing the 5th respondent not to take up
repairs, relied on and filed by the 5th respondent in its rejoinder, dated
21-9-2004, in the S.L.P.;
27-9-2004 The S.L. Ps filed by the 1st and the 5th respondents came up for hearing and
the Hon'ble Supreme Court rejected stay while granting leave;
4-10-2004 Legal notice got issued by the petitioner and other member- sugarcane
growers, demanding implementation of the order of this Court, by issuing
clearance for crushing operations by the 4th respondent society;
28-10-2004 The Contempt case filed on 14-10-2004 came up for consideration of this
Court. Having admitted the contempt case, this Court directed notice to be
issued as against the respondents in Form -I;
5-11-2004 The 1st and the 3rd respondents issued proceedings for commencing crushing
operations by all other similarly situated co-operative sugar factories in
the State in pursuance of the judgment of this Court G. V. Jayachandra
Chowdary's case (5 supra);
29-11-2004 The 1st respondent filed I.A. Nos. 3 & 4 of 2004 in the Hon'ble Supreme Court
seeking permission for running sugar mill sold to the auction purchasers,
tili final disposal to avoid implementation of the orders and the request for
stay of the contempt proceedings by the 1st respondent was rejected and only
notice was directed in the said I. As. by the Hon'ble Supreme Court;
30-11-2004 The 3rd respondent issued orders appointing D.CO. as In charge Managing
1-12-2004 The 1st respondent issued orders appointing, the Project Director, D.R.D.A.,
as P.I.C., even while the Contempt Case is pending, ignoring the orders of
the 3rd respondent dated 27-12-2003 and also the orders of this Court, dated
29-6-2004. On the same day, proceedings were issued by the 3rd respondent
requiring the 4th respondent to take back the possession from the 5th
respondent 'in order to implement the judgment and order of this Court, dated
29-6-2004, in W.P. No. 26875 of 2003 and 4410 of 2004 subject to outcome of
S.L.P. Nos. 17993 and 17994 of 2004 pending in the Supreme Court;'
2-12-2004 The tender notice was published in Andhra Jyothi and the Hindu;
2-12-2004 Respondents 1 to 3 and 5 filed their counters in the contempt case and the
compliance of the order was reported before this Court at 10-30 a.m.
Simultaneously, the 5th respondent obtained leave for moving lunch motion and
filed W.P. No. 22259 of 2004 questioning the alleged action of resuming
possession by the official respondents and obtained an order of status-quo;
3-12-2004 The contempt case along with W.P. No. 22259 of 2004 was listed and was
adjourned to 6-12-2004 for counters in W.P. No. 22259 of 2004; 6-12-2004 The
4th respondent filed his counter in the contempt case and the respondents 2
and 3 have filed their counters in the writ petition. The matter was
adjourned to 8-12-2004 at the request of the 4th respondent for filing
8-12-2004 C.C. No. 1384 of 2004 filed by the petitioner and other member- sugarcane
growers and the W.P. No. 22259 of 2004 filed by the 5th respondent have come
up before this Court and were heard together and the same were posted for
hearing on 10-12-2004;
9-12-2004 W.P. No. 22903 of 2004 has been filed by the members/sugarcane growers of the
Society challenging the proceedings, dated 30-11 -2004, of the 3rd respondent
as well as G.O. Rt. No. 776, dated 1-12-2004, appointing person-in-charge to
manage the affairs of the N.V.R. Co-operative Sugars Limited, Jampani, and
seeking further directions directing respondents 1 to 4 not to allow the 5th
respondent to interfere with the affairs of the 4th respondent society in any
14-12-2004 This Court having heard the contempt case reserved the matter for judgment;
17-12-2004 That a mention was made by the learned Advocate General that in view of the
prevailing situations and in order to avoid further hardship to the farmers,
permission may be granted to the Managing Director of the Sugar Factory to
operate the factory under direct supervision of the Government until the
judgment is pronounced by this Court. This Court having accepted the request
made by the learned Advocate General modified the order of status quo granted
by the learned single Judge while admitting W.P. No. 22259 of 2004 with the
observation that the said order 'shall not preclude the Managing Director to
operate the factory and undertake crushing operations under the supervision
of the Government/Cane Commissioner by utilising the services of the existing
staff and employees working in the factory. This order shall be subject to
the further orders to be passed by us in these matters''
20-12-2004 That a further mention was made by the learned counsel for the petitioners
and an affidavit was filed inter alia alleging that after passing the orders
by this Court on 17-12-2004 referred to hereinabove, the Managing Director of
the factory has conducted an inaugural public meeting with the help of the
staff of the 5th respondent. The public was informed that crushing would be
conducted by the Government only. The sum and substance of the averments made
in the affidavit are that the respondents have committed further contempt.
22-12-2004 That a detailed counter affidavit has been filed denying the allegations. It
is stated that permits were obtained in the name of the Government of Andhra
Pradesh. The Chief Agricultural Officer of the factory and the Cane
Regulation Inspector attached to the Assistant Cane Commissioner, Nellore,
were closely monitoring the cane arrivals and crushing activities. It is
emphatically denied that no one including the 5th respondent and its
officials are involved in the crushing operations and the orders of this
Court are being implemented strictly in its letters and spirits.
17. The events suggest the anxiety on the part of respondents 1 to 4 to help the 5th respondent and facilitate its continuance and association with the sugar factory. There is no dispute whatsoever that only on 16-12-2003, the Registrar passed orders under Section 12-A(5) of the Societies Act accepting the best offer of the 5th respondent subject to fulfilment of the conditions mentioned therein including registration of transfer deed amd disbursement of the amounts as per sub-section (9) of Section 12-A of the Societies Act.
18. Sub-section (7) of Section 12-A of the Societies Act provides that on the Registrar making an order under sub-section (5) and on such order being notified in the Andhra Pradesh Gazette, the Committee of the society shall stand dissolved vacating their respective office from the dates specified in the order. The Registrar shall simultaneously appoint a person or persons, wherever necessary, to manage the affairs of such society till it is dissolved.
19. Sub-section (8) of Section 12 of the Societies Act provides that the person or persons so appointed by the Registrar under sub-section (7) shall transfer the assets or assets and liabilities, in whole or in part, of the society concerned to the person submitting the best offer in the manner specified in the order.
20. The gazette notification of the order under Section 12-A(5) of the Societies Act as is required under sub-section (7) has been published in the official Gazette only on 31-12-2003. There could not have been delivery of assets to the 5th respondent on 28-12-2003 even before the publication of the Gazatte notification on 31-12-2003. It is difficult to discern as to how the 3rd respondent even on 27-12-2003 could have issued proceedings appointing the 4th respondent as the person-in-charge of the sugar factory under Section 12-A(7) of the Societies Act to manage the affairs of the Society until further orders and instructed him to handover the possession of the assets of the society on 28-12-2003 to the 5th respondent to enable the 5th respondent to carry out the repairs and maintenance work and start the crushing operations for 2003-2004 season. This singular instance suggests that respondents 1 to 4 treated the 5th respondent as their blue-eyed boy and acted with vengeance to remove the members of the Managing Committee, in order to transfer the assets of the Society concerned to the 5th respondent whose offer was accepted as best offer. It is a different matter now that respondents 1 to 4 turn around and contend that the delivery of assets to the 5th respondent was made only on 4-1 -2004 contrary to the assertion of the 5th respondent as if the possession was delivered on 28-12-2003 itself.
21. In this context, the order passed by this Court on 29-6-2004 disposing of the writ petition acquires some significance whereunder this Court observed, 'there is some controversy as to whether the possession of the factory at all was delivered on 4-1-2004. The learned counsel for the petitioners have placed copies of the various proceedings in support of their submission that even official respondents have colluded with the 5th respondent in the manner contrary to the interim order passed by this Court on 8-1-2004 directing the parties to maintain status quo. We are not inclined to express any opinion on the allegation of manipulation of records etc., but find some basis for making such an allegation.'
22. It is now clear that the 5th respondent has been calling shots and respondents 1 to 4 were dancing to its tunes.
23. Be it as it may, this Court rendered its judgment in G.V. Jayachandra Chowdary's case (5 supra) on 30-4-2004 declaring sub- sections (3) to (8) of Section 12-A of the Societies Act as unconstitutional being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. That atleast respondents 1 to 4 are bound by the law declared by this Court, if not the 5th respondent since it was not a party respondent and nothing should have done, by them contrary to law declared by this Court. That all required steps ought to have been initiated by the respondents 1 to 4 for restoration of the affairs of the management of the Society to its validly (elected) committee, and the sale in favour of the 5th respondent ought to have been set aside and the possession ought to have been resumed so as to be handed over back to the Society. Respondents 1 to 4 were not expected to wait till the disposal of W.P. Nos. 26875 of 2003 and 4410 of 2004 filed challenging the privatisation of the N.V.R. Co-operative Sugars Limited, which was actually disposed of on 29-6-2004. That at any rate, respondents 1 to 5 ought to have acted immediately after disposal of the said writ petitions by this Court on 29-6-2004. It is needless to observe that where the Constitutional Court's order is disobeyed by the authorities to whom it is addressed, the latter authority commits contempt of court for its acting disobedience to the authority of the Constitutional Court. Such acts of disobedience are calculated to undermine public respect for the Constitutional Courts and jeopardize the preservation of social order.
24. The conduct of respondents 1 to 5 in not following the decision of this Court reported in G. V. Jayachandra Chowdary's case (5 supra) is calculated to create confusion in the administration of justice. Such acts are fraught with serious consequences since they undermine respect for the law laid down by the High Court and impair the Constitutional authority of the High Court.
25. In Shri Baradakanta Mishra v. Bhimsen Dixit, : 1973CriLJ19 . it is observed:
'........Just as the disobedience to a specific order of the Court undermines the authority and dignity of the court in a particular case, similarly the deliberate and mala fide conduct of not following the law laid down in the previous decision undermines the constitutional authority and respect of the High Court. Indeed, while the former conduct has repercussions on an individual case and on a limited number of persons, the latter conduct has a much wider and more disastrous impact. It is calculated not only to undermine the constitutional authority and respect of the High Court, generally, but is also likely to subvert the Rule of Law and engender harassing uncertainty and confusion in the administration of law.'
26. It is evident from the proceedings, dated 5-10-2004 and 7-10-2004, on the file of the respondents 1 and 3 that an appropriate decision has been taken to take necessary action for restarting Sri Venkateswara Co-operative Sugar Factory, Renigunta, and Chittoor Co-operative Sugars, Chittoor, and even proposals were submitted for obtaining revival package from the National Federation of Co-operative Sugar Factories Limited, New Delhi. Why this selective implementation? The law declared by this Court in G. V. Jayachandra Chowdary's case (5 supra) is equally applicable in case of N.V.R. Co-operative Sugars Limited as in the case of Sri Venkateswara Co-operative Sugar Factory, Renigunta, and Chittoor Co- operative Sugars, Chittoor. The contention that the Special Leave Petition filed against the common order, dated 30-4-2004, is pending under consideration and therefore the orders could not be implemented by respondents 1 to 4 cannot be countenanced. The special leave petitions were filed against the common order, dated 30-4-2004. Even on 8-5-2004, in none of the special leave petitions any stay is granted by the Supreme Court. The S.L.P. Nos. 11822 and 11823 of 2004 filed by the 5th respondent came up for hearing on 27-9-2004, and upon hearing the counsel, the Supreme Court made the following order:
'Leave granted. No stay. Hearing expedited.'
27. Is there any justification on the part of the respondents is not complying with the directions of this Court, at least immediately after the dismissal of the stay petition filed by the 5th respondent? The respondents 1 to 4 instead of displacing the 5th respondent for the purpose of restoring the unit to the Managing Committee of the Society, had chosen to file I.A. Nos. 3 & 4 of 2004 in S.L.P No. 17993 & 17994 of 2004 seeking appropriate orders/directions for running the sugar factory in question sold to the 5th respondent till the final disposal of the aforesaid matter, in the interest of justice. These applications obviously have been filed only after receiving the legal notice, dated 4-10-2004, from the petitioners' counsel.
28. Why so much of anxiety on the part of the respondents 1 to 4 to protect the interest of the 5th respondent? Can it be said that respondents 1 to 4 have conducted themselves in a manner expected of them?
29. Article 39 of the Constitution of India, commands that the State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good; that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment; and Article 43 of the Constitution of India, commands that the State, in particular, shall endeavour to promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operative basis in rural areas.
30. The directive principles incorporated in the Constitution commanding the State to formulate effective policies with a view of changing a longstanding, unjust and all- powerful feudal order. The directive principles of State policy still remain a distant dream for all 'We, the people of India'. The ongoing process of privatisation appears to have hit everybody in the State and the idealism of social and economic democracy had waned to a larger extent. The State apparatus appears to be slowly losing its elan and effectiveness, bit by tiny bit, speed-breaker by speed-breaker. This transformation needs to be analysed more minutely before the new ambient gradually lead to a situation where the State may get demoralized.
31. Be it as it may, the respondents did not initiate any steps for implementation of the judgment of this Court for a period of more than six months, on the contrary have acted like a chronic and unscrupulous litigants. They did everything at their command to protect the 5th respondent that resulted in deliberate defiance of the order.
32. Each of the events noticed in the chronology of events is inexplicable and leads to inescapable conclusion that respondents have wilfully and deliberately violated the orders passed by this Court. They have failed in their duty in handing over N.V.R. Co-operative Sugars Limited together with its assets and liabilities to the Society through its validly elected Managing Committee.
33. It is only after admission of the contempt case requiring the respondents' appearance in the matter, some steps were initiated and that too in half-hearted manner for reporting compliance of the orders passed by this Court.
34. The 5th respondent under no circumstances can be allowed to be in possession of the Sugar Factory and its assets. It has no legal right to raise any objection whatsoever for taking over possession of the assets for their retransfer to the Society through validly elected Managing Committee. Its contention that proper procedure has not been followed by the respondents in resuming the possession is totally unacceptable. No particular procedure as such is required to be followed for implementing the judgment of this Court. The order passed by this Court resulted in setting aside the transfer of assets in favour of the 5th respondent and for their restoration to the Society through validly elected Managing Committee. The Managing Committee is entitled to manage the affairs of the society until its elected term comes to an end,
35. Yet another act of defiance, the 1st respondent vide G.O. Rt. No. 776, dated 1-12-2004, in utter disregard and disobedience to the judgment of this Court appointed the Project Director, District Rural Development Agency, Guntur, as Person-in- Charge to manage the affairs of the Society and to oversee the functioning of the N.V.R. Co-operative Sugars Limited, Jampani, in view of the ensuing crushing season 2004-2005. The order is purported to have been passed under Section 32(7)(a)(i) of the Societies Act. It is difficult to discern as to how such an order could have been passed by the 1 st respondent appointing the person- in-charge to manage the affairs of the Society when under the judgment of this Court, the management of the affairs of the Society deemed to have been restored in favour of the elected Managing Committee. There is no vacuum requiring exercise of power under Section 32(7)(a)(i) of the Societies Act for appointing a person-in- charge to manage the affairs of the Society. This is yet another attempt on the part of the respondents to defeat the efficacy of the judgment of this Court. This reprehensible conduct on the part of the respondents is required to be deprecated in unmistakable terms.
36. It is a clear case of disobedience to an order binding upon the respondents.
37. It is the fundamental duty of this Court to protect the rights of the public by ensuring that the administration of justice shall not be obstructed or prevented. The whole purpose of proceedings for contempt is to uphold the fundamental supremacy of the law. Our power to initiate proceedings for contempt is coupled with the duty to punish conduct, which tends to abuse the administration of justice.
38. Lord Morris summarised the necessity for this branch of law in Times Newspapers Limited's case (2 supra):
'In an ordered community courts are established for the pacific settlement of disputes and for the maintenance of law and order. In the general interests of the community it is imperative that the authority of the courts should not be imperilled and that recourse to them should not be subject to unjustifiable interference. When such unjustifiable interference is suppressed it is not because those charged with the responsibilities of administering justice are concerned for their own dignity: it is because the very structure of ordered life is at risk if the recognised courts of the land are so flouted and their authority wanes and is supplanted'.
39. In this country, all citizens have the right of unhindered access to the constitutionally established Courts for determination of the disputes as to their legal rights and liabilities. The decisions rendered by such Courts are bound to be implemented and obeyed and any disobedience adversely affects not only the benefit derived by the party at whose request such an order may have been made but even public interest at large, as Lord Diplock explained in Times Newspapers Limited's case (2 Supra) in relation to 'civil contempt':
'The order is made at the request and for the sole benefit of the other party to the civil action. There is an element of public policy in punishing civil contempt, since the administration of justice would be undermined if the order of any court of law could be disregarded with impunity.'
40. On consideration of all the relevant facts, we hold that the respondents and each one of them committed contempt of court for their wilful disobedience in complying with the directions issued by this Court.
41. The attempts made to purge themselves of a deliberate contempt by tendering 'unconditional apology for the delay, if any, in implementing the orders passed..........' lacks sincerity. We find the unconditional apology tendered to be not a bona fide one, since the subsequent events even after admission of the contempt case disclose the continuous disobedience to the order of the Court. The transgression is so serious and patent, leaves us with no option except to punish the respondents for contempt of court. An idea must not be harboured that a person who has willfully committed a breach to an order of the Court can obtain remission of sentence by coming to the Court and saying, '! realised my transgression and apologise for it'.
42. However, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, we take a lenient and compassionate view and accordingly punish each of the respondents with a fine of Rs. 500/- to be payable within one week from today.
W.P. Nos. 22903 and 22259 of 2004:
43. For the aforesaid reasons, G.O. Rt. No. 776, dated 1-12-2004, whereunder the Government appointed the Project Director, District Rural Development Agency, Guntur as a Person-in-Charge to N.V.R. Co- operative Sugars Limited, Jampani, to manage the affairs of the Society is set aside. The management of the affairs of the Society shall be deemed to have been restored and vest in the elected Managing Committee, which is entitled to manage the affairs of the Society. The assets and liabilities of the N.V.R. Co-operative Sugars Limited, Jampani, shall stand restored to the Society. The respondents are directed not to interfere in the affairs of the Society in any manner whatsoever. Respondents 1 to 4 shall ensure that the 5th respondent - Krebs Biochemicals & Industries Limited in no manner meddles in the affairs of the Society.
44. The short tender advertisement issued by the Managing Director inviting tenders to operate N.V.R. Co-operative Sugars Limited on lease basis for crushing season 2004-2005 is accordingly set aside. It is left to the Managing Committee as to in what manner the N.V.R. Co-operative Sugars Limited is to be operated for the crushing season 2004-2005. There shall be a further direction, directing respondents 1 to 3 to extend the same protection as it did in case of other sick Co-operative Sugar Units so as to enable the Society to operate the factory for the crushing season 2004-2005. Accordingly, W,P. No. 22903 of 2004 is allowed with costs.
45. The petitioner in W.P. No. 22259 of 2004 is not entitled for any relief. The writ petition filed by it is absolutely frivolous. The petitioner is not entitled to remain in possession and assert any right in respect of the sugar factory in question. The writ petition shall accordingly stand dismissed.
46. The costs in both the writ petitions is quantified at Rs. 10,000/- to be paid by the 5th respondent viz., Krebs Biochemicals & Industries Limited to the petitioner in C.C. No. 1384 of 2004.
47. The Contempt Case and the Writ Petitions are accordingly ordered.