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Ekka Tonga Mazdoor Union and ors. Vs. the Aligarh Municipal Board and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Misc. Contempt Case No. 39 of 1965
Judge
Reported inAIR1967All93; 1967CriLJ291
ActsContempt of Courts Act, 1952 - Sections 3 and 4
AppellantEkka Tonga Mazdoor Union and ors.
RespondentThe Aligarh Municipal Board and ors.
Appellant AdvocateAddl. Govt. Adv., ;Adv. General, ;R.P. Singh, ;J.N. Agarwal and ;Misin A. Rahman, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateB.N. Misra, Adv.
Excerpt:
criminal - contempt of court - sections 3 and 4 of contempt of courts act, 1952 - dispute over realization of stand-fees - high court order restraining realization of fee during pendency of proceedings - orders of superior officer for compliance of high court order - undue delay in compliance by demand officer - whether contempt of court - whether service of court order necessary or notice of order sufficient - false defence followed by apology - apology whether acceptable - held, undue delay in compliance of order amounts to contempt of court - no order need be served and notice sufficient - belated apology by contemner who earlier setup false evidence not acceptable. .....ordergyanendra kumar, j.1. this is an application for taking proceedings against the respondents for contempt of this court. petitioner no. 1 is a registered body, which is known as 'ekka tonga mazdur union'. its secretary is bhagwan das, while the remaining petitioners are its members who ply their vehicles within the limits of the municipal board, aligarh. the first respondent is the municipal board, aligarh, which is a superseded board. respondent no. 2 is the officer-in-charge of that board; respondent no. 8 is its executive officer; respondent no. 4 is the demand inspector; and respondent no. 5 is the demand clerk, while the remaining respondents are employed as clerks or peons at various octroi posts of the municipal board.2. the municipal board of aligarh had been realising fees.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Gyanendra Kumar, J.

1. This is an application for taking proceedings against the respondents for contempt of this Court. Petitioner No. 1 is a registered body, which is known as 'Ekka Tonga Mazdur Union'. Its Secretary is Bhagwan Das, while the remaining petitioners are its members who ply their vehicles within the limits of the Municipal Board, Aligarh. The first respondent is the Municipal Board, Aligarh, which is a superseded Board. Respondent No. 2 is the Officer-in-charge of that Board; respondent No. 8 is its Executive Officer; respondent No. 4 is the Demand Inspector; and respondent No. 5 is the Demand Clerk, while the remaining respondents are employed as clerks or peons at various Octroi posts of the Municipal Board.

2. The Municipal Board of Aligarh had been realising fees from Ekka and Tongawalas for the use of the Municipal stands situate at various places in the city. The above Union and its members had been fighting with the Municipal Board for the discontinuance of the stand-fees. In this connection they had filed two civil suits on earlier occasions, which were decided in favour of the Union. However, it appears that the Municipal Board persisted in realising stand-fees from the petitioners, with the result that they filed Civil Misc. Writ petition No. 621 of 1964 in this Court against the Aligarh Municipal Board. This writ petition was admitted by Pathak, J. on 29-3-1965, who further passed the following interim order of stay:

'During the pendency of the application, the respondent shall not realise any fee for the use of stands on Hathras Road, Iglas Road, Banna Devi Road, Sri Sikandra Rao Road, Khair Road and Chatari Road from the petitioners Nos. 2 to 7'.

3. On that very day, that is, 29-3-1965. Bhagwan Das, Secretary of the Union, obtained a certified copy of the above quoted stay order and is said to have reached Aligarh on 30-3-1965. On 31-3-1965 the said Bhagwan Das handed over in the office of the Board a letter addressed to the Officer-in-charge, Municipal Board, Aligarh (Ext. A) saying that in Writ Petition No. 621 of 1964 the High Court had stayed the realisation of stand-fees, but the said order of the High Court was not being obeyed. Along with that letter he also annexed an uncertified carbon copy of the High Court's stay order dated 29-3-1965 (Ext. B). The office of the Board granted receipt for the same to Bhagwandas, which is Ext. C, dated 31-3-1965. According to Bhagwan Das he had shown the certified copy of the High Court stay order to the Executive Officer, the Demand Inspector and the Receiving clerk, before filing Exts. A and B in the Municipal Office. Exts. A and B reached the Executive Officer on that very day (31-3-1965) at about 4 p.m. when he directed the Demand Inspector as under:

'D. I.

Please to report in the matter. O. C. (Officer-in-charge) may also kindly see'.

4. On 1-4-1965, the officer-in-charge passed an order saying 'seen. Orders of High Court should be obeyed'. When the above order of the Officer-in-charge with Exts. A and B again came to the Executive Officer on 1-4-1965, he made a remark: 'D. I. to note and comply' and sent these papers forthwith to his office in order to be placed before the Demand Inspector, Kanhaiya Lal Sharma (respondent No. 4). On the night of 1-4-1965 the Executive Officer went away to Lucknow on official work and returned to Aligarh on the morning of 5-4-1965. During his absence the Municipal Medical Officer of Health was acting as Executive Officer. The seal affixed on Ext. A shows that these papers had been received in Demand Office on 2-4-1965 at 4 p.m.

Instead of complying with the High Court's order, as directed by the Executive Officer and the Officer-in-charge the Demand Inspector on 3-4-1965 made a note on Ext. A addressed to the Executive Officer that Ext. B was not a certified copy of the High Court's order and that, if deemed proper, opinion of the Municipal counsel may be obtained regarding the matter. It is strange that these papers were not placed before the Acting Executive Officer and were only put up before the Executive Officer on his return on 5-4-1965. Thereupon the Executive Officer passed the following order on the morning of 5-4-1965.

'Today, D. I.

The orders of O. C. and High Court are clear and need compliance at once. Municipal Counsel be also please apprised and his report and advice take'.

It is again noteworthy that in spite of the fact that the Executive Officer's order to the Demand Inspector was couched in unambiguous terms that the High Court's order was clear and needed compliance at once and further in spite of the Executive Officer having underlined the word 'today', the Demand Inspector, instead of carrying out High Court's order at once, chose to pass on the papers to the Municipal counsel, who on that very day (5-4-1965) wrote back saying that the order of the High Court had to be obeyed. He further advised that the Board's lawyers at Allahabad should move for vacating the stay order. The Demand Inspector was still not satisfied and wrote yet another note to the Executive, Officer on 5-4-1965 requesting him to peruse the opinion of the Municipal counsel and seeking his directions whether the realisation of stand-fee should be stopped. Needless to repeat that the Officer-in-charge and the Executive Officer had already passed clear orders directing the Demand Inspector to comply with the High Court's order at once.

Even in the absence of a certified copy of the stay order the Municipal counsel had also opined that the High Court's order should be obeyed. But the Demand Inspector persisted in seeking further instructions from the Executive Officer on 5-4-1965 whether the realisation of stand-fees should or should not be stopped. The Executive Officer then wrote another note to the Demand Inspector on 5-4-1965 reading:

'There are orders already on page overleaf that the orders of the High Court be obeyed. That be done forthwith'.

The worthy Demand Inspector, instead of sending immediate information to the six Octroi posts to stop realisation of stand-fees forthwith from the applicants, chose to sleep over the matter for another day, with the result that the stay order was communicated to the relevant Octroi posts in the afternoon of 6th April, 1965. According to the counter-affidavit of Tula Ram Sharma, Demand clerk dated 22-7-1965 and that of Kanhaiya Lal Sharma, Demand Inspector dated 29-7-1965, the stay order of the High Court was acted upon only with effect from 7-4-1965. The result was that stand-fees continued to be realised from petitioners Nos. 2 to 7, during this lone interval of seven days in utter violation of the High Court's order of stay, which had been served on the Municipal Board on 31-3-1965.

5. Obviously the Demand Inspector was hyper-conscious of his importance of 'being an administrative and supervising authority' (to quote his own words). He appears to have made it a vain prestige issue, inasmuch as it was he who was in direct charge of realisation of stand-fee and the order of prohibition issued by the High Court related directly to his department, so, in order to defer the implementation of the High Court's order as much as possible, he intentionally took recourse to raising frivolous objection by pointing out to the Executive Officer on 3-4-1965 the so called 'defect of the order being uncertified', even though he knew very well that the Officer Incharge and the Executive Officer had already seen the uncertified copy of the order on 1-4-1965 and had even then directed in writing that it should be implemented forthwith. His intentional design to refuse to obey the High Court's order with promptitude is further apparent from the fact that even after his pointing out the so-called defect in the order, the Executive Officer had instructed the Demand Inspector in writing that the High Court's order was clear and needed compliance at once. The Executive Officer had further underlined the word 'Today'.

The Municipal counsel had also expressed his opinion in unequivocal language that the High Court's order should be obeyed. But the defiant Demand Inspector still chose to address yet another note to the Executive Officer on 5-4-1965 seeking further instructions whether the stand-fee should or should not be stopped. Naturally the Executive Officer wrote back saying that orders had already been passed that the injunction of the High Court be obeyed and that it should be done forthwith. I am shocked to find that the Demand Inspector, in the teeth of the Executive Officers repeated directions for immediate compliance of High Court's order by stopping realisation of stand fee forthwith took things easy and slept over the matter for another day, with the result that the orders were received by the octroi posts in question in the afternoon of 6-4-1965. The above facts and conduct of the Demand Inspector were nothing but intentional and were calculated to defy the High Court's order as long as possible.

6. The Demand Inspector has put forward all sorts of false pleas to show his bona fides and justification of his acts and conduct, which are utterly belied by the following facts and circumstances:

(1) The Demand Inspector evidently knew that under Rule 1 of the Byelaws for the regulation of stands within the Aligarh Municipal Board, no stand fee could have been realised from the petitioners, who were duly licensed by the Board.

(2) For quite some time past the Union and its members had been challenging the authority of the Board to realise stand fee from them and had already filed two suits in the matter. So it could not have come as surprise to the Demand Inspector, if this time they had approached the High Court in writ jurisdiction and had obtained an order staying realisation of stand fee.

(3) The office of the Board had without question accepted the ordinary copy of the High Court's stay order and so had the two highest authorities of the Board, who had further ordered immediate compliance thereof. Obviously all of them had treated the copy of the order as authentic.

(4) The ordinary copy of the High Court's stay order had been presented by the Secretary of the Union, along with his letter scribed on the official letter-head of the Union, which vouched its genuineness.

(5) The copy of the High Court's order (Ext. B) does not only give the writ number, names of the parties, subject matter of the stay order and dates etc, but also purports to show the signatures of the Judges as well as of the superintendent Judicial Department, below the words 'True Copy' and those of the Clerk concerned. On the left-hand margin of Ext. B, the word 'Seal' is also mentioned. Thus the very look of the order lent assurance regarding its authenticity.

(6) The version of Bhagwan Das that, before filing the ordinary copy of the stay order along with his letter dated 31-3-1965, he had shown the certified copy to the Executive Officer, the Demand Inspector and the Clerk concerned, is natural and trustworthy.

7. Thus there was no reasonable or probable cause for the Demand Inspector to have considered the copy of the High Court's order as unauthentic and his action in pointing out the so-called defect to the Executive Officer was nothing but deliberate and mala fide.

8. The Demand Inspector has also recklessly sworn his affidavits. In his affidavit dated 28-8-1964, the Demand Inspector falsely stated that the receipt of realisation of stand-fee from Bhola Prasad son of Badri (Petitioner No. 6) in reality appertained to one Bhola son of Jhingura. He also wrongly asserted that the petitioners were trying to take undue advantage of the similarity of names. He also managed to secure an affidavit to above effect from Bhola to whom the receipt was said to have been granted. In para 6 of his affidavit dated 29-4-1965 the Demand Inspector has spun out a story that he had received information from his sister-in-law's village Manoharpur that his brother-in-law was seriously ill and so he left for that place on the evening of 3rd April, straight from his office. Having reached Manoharpur he is said to have got the news that there was improvement in his brother-in-law's condition, so he returned to Aligarh on the morning of 5th April, 1965 and then got realisations of stand-fee stopped.

He has not cared to disclose the source of his information regarding his brother-in-law's illness nor as to who told him in village Manoharpur that his brother-in-law had made some improvement. No certificate of his illness has been filed. Even if the Demand Inspector had received the good news of improvement in the condition of his brother-in-law, one would still expect him to proceed to see his brother-in-law, who was till late reported to be seriously ill, even though his condition might have slightly improved, particularly when he had the whole of 4th of April (Sunday) at his disposal. Curiously enough, he verifies the contents of para 6 of his affidavit, containing above facts regarding the illness of his brother-in-law as being 'true on perusal of records'. Such an affidavit has only to be seen and rejected. He is the real villain of the piece. I am quite satisfied that he had knowingly and intentionally defied the High Court's order for over a week of its being duly served on the Municipal Board.

9. Even at the risk of repetition it may be mentioned that the Executive Officer and the Officer Incharge of the Municipal Board, Aligarh, had unquestioningly accepted the copy of the High Court's stay order (Ex. B) as being an authentic document, presented as it was along with the Secretary's letter dated 31-3-1965 written on the letter-head of the Union, duly signed by the Secretary himself. Once the stay order had been served on the Municipal Board, and its highest officers had accepted its authenticity unreservedly and had further directed its immediate implementation, it was none of the functions of the petitioner to have convinced every other employee of the Board that the copy of the order was true and authentic and should be acted upon. Immediate compliance is the essence of orders of stay, prohibition and injunction issued by Courts of law. If their implementation is allowed to stand over for a week or so, in many cases they would become infructuous. Such scant respect shown to the stay order of this Court by any officer of the Board cannot be tolerated, for it shakes public confidence in the authority and efficacy of judicial orders.

10. The learned Advocate General, appearing on behalf of the respondents, has strenuously argued that there was no reliable evidence of the certified copy of the High Court's stay order having been shown to the Executive Officer or the Demand Inspector, as alleged by Bhagwan Das, Secretary or the Union. There can be no manner of doubt that a certified copy of the High Court's order of stay dated 29-3-1965 was issued to the counsel for the petitioners appearing in the writ petition on that very day and further that Bhagwan Das was present in the High Court on that date. The original certificate dated 28-10-1965 under Chapter VIII Rule 81 of the Rules of Court issued by the Superintendent of the Copying Department clearly shows that a certified copy of the stay order dated 29-3-1965 passed by Pathak, J. was issued to the petitioners counsel on that very day i.e. 29-3-1965. It hardly needs any argument that the urgent certified copy of the High Court's order of stay was taken by Bhagwan Das for the purpose of producing the same before the authorities of the Municipal Board, Aligarh, and it can be presumed that it was also shown to none of them. Bhagwan Das, Secretary of the Union, who had taken the certified copy, deposes that he had shown the same to the Executive Officer and also to the Demand Inspector and had filed its true copy along with his letter dated 31-3-1965 addressed to the Officer Incharge, Municipal Board complaining that the High Court's order was not being obeyed.

11. It is true that the Executive Officer as well as the Demand Inspector state that the certified copy of the High Court's order had not been shown to them by Bhagwan Das. It is equally true that Bhagwan Das has not been able to produce before me the certified copy of the Stay order issued to him, which he now alleges to have been misplaced or lost. So far as the denial of the Executive Officer and the Demand Inspector is concerned, it may only be observed that once an allegation of deliberate disobedience of the order was made against them, they shall have strong reasons for denying its production before them. The petitioners were naturally anxious that the realisation of stand-fee was stopped as early as possible. Therefore, it was in their own interest to see that the order of restraint was served on the Municipal Board at the earliest. That was the obvious reason why Bhagwan Das had obtained a certified copy of the High Court's stay order dated 29-3-1965. Having obtained the certified copy it is only reasonable to presume that he had approached the officers of the Board and had showed it to them with the request that further realisations should be stopped forthwith.

In somewhat similar circumstances, a Division Bench of this Court in Ram Charan v. Debi Dayal, AIR 1955 All 483 para 8 had observed as follows:

'Once an allegation of deliberate disobedience of the order was made against the opposite party, the opposite party would have a strong reason for denying it even though it was true. It would be in his own interest to deny it. The applicants were naturally anxious to have the construction stopped as early as possible. Their suit was for injunction and the object behind it might have been defeated if, before it was decided, the construction had been completed. It was, therefore, in the applicants' own interest to see that the injunction order was served as early as possible upon the opposite party.

That explains why they obtained a copy of the injunction order from this Court; once they obtained it, it stands to reason that they approached the opposite party, showed it to him and asked him to stop further construction. There would have been no other object behind their obtaining an urgent copy of the order from this Court'.

12. In the circumstances of the case, I am inclined to accept the version of Bhagwan Das on this point in preference to that of the Executive Officer and the Demand Inspector who stand charged for having disobeyed the order of this Court. But even if the certified copy of the High Court's order was not shown to the Executive Officer, the Demand Inspector and the clerk concerned as alleged by the defence, he had admittedly filed an ordinary copy of the stay order along with his letter written in his own handwriting duly signed by him and scribed on the official letter-head of the Union. Bhagwan Das had no personal gain or loss in the matter. Being its Secretary, Bhagwan Das was an accredited official of the Union which was a registered body. He had given in writing that the High Court had passed a stay order and had further annexed its copy along with his letter (Ex. A). That by itself should have inspired confidence in the minds of the clerk concerned the Executive Officer and the Officer Incharge, Municipal Board that such an order had really been passed.

They knew very well that the Union had been agitating the matter for quite some time and had even filed two suits in the civil court restraining the Board from realising stand-fee from its members. Moreover the very look of Ex. B and the meticulous details contained therein, already mentioned in the earlier part of the judgment, vouched for its authenticity. According to his own admission, the Executive Officer did not consider it necessary to send for Bhagwan Das to dispel his doubts about the authenticity of the letter and whether enclosed therewith was a copy of the order of the Judge of the High Court'. The Executive Officer also 'did not consider it necessary to find out from the clerk concerned whether the Secretary had shown him the certified copy of the High Court's order'. At any rate, by the time exhibits A and B reached the Demand Inspector, they bore the seal of authenticity in the shape of the orders passed by the Officer Incharge as well as the Executive Officer to the effect that the High Court's order must be obeyed with all promptitude. The Demand Inspector had thus no reason to doubt the authenticity of the copy of the stay order which had been furnished by Bhagwan Das along with his letter dated 31-3-1965. I am, therefore, satisfied that the action and conduct of Kanhaiya Lal, Demand Inspector, was not bona fide and that he had wilfully and deliberately tried to whittle down the High Court's order or at least postpone its implementation as long as possible.

13. The learned Advocate General has invited my attention to three cases of the Supreme Court viz. S.S. Roy v. State of Orissa, AIR 1961 SC 190; B. K. Kar v. Chief Justice of Orissa AIR 1961 SC 1367 and Hoshiar Singh v. Gurbachan Singh, AIR 1962 SC 1089 in support of the proposition that in order to find a person guilty of disobedience of an order of the Court, it must be proved that the contemner had corrupt motive and intention and that the disobedience of the Court's order has to be deliberate and wilful. With the greatest respect for their Lordships of the Supreme Court I entirely agree with the above proposition of law. However, I have already held above that the act and conduct of Kanhaiya Lal, Demand Inspector clearly amounted to wilful, deliberate and intentional defiance of the High Court's order, as long as possible. Wilful disobedience of a court's order, though temporary is as serious as absolute disobedience.

14. As held in Hoshiar Singh's case, AIR 1962 SC 1089 (supra) by the Supreme Court of India, the learned Advocate General conceded that in the matter of a prohibitory order issued by a Court it was not necessary that the order itself should have been served on the party against whom it had been granted in order to justify committal for breach of such an order, provided it was proved that the person complained against had notice of the order aliunde. However, the learned Advocate General has emphasized the observations of their Lordships of the Supreme Court that there may be circumstances where officials entrusted with the duty of carrying out a legal order may have reason to doubt the authenticity of the order conveyed to them by interested parties and in those circumstances it may be said that there was no wilful disobedience of the order made.

The learned Advocate General has further argued that where the person sought to be restrained is informed not officially but by an interested party, he must either produce the certified copy of the prohibitory order or make a formal application duly supported by an affidavit and then alone would the notice of the order be deemed to have been served on the person sought to be restrained. I am afraid that there can be no such absolute rule. The matter of proper notice to the person sought to be restrained will differ with peculiar circumstances of each case.

In the first place Bhagwan Das was not personally interested nor had he any personal gain or loss in the matter. On the other hand be was a responsible and accredited office-bearer of the petitioners' Union, being its Secretary. As noticed earlier, he had actually addressed a formal letter in his own writing, bearing his signature, on the official paper of the Union, saying in clear terms that the High Court had restrained the Board from realising stand fee. He had further noted in the letter that he was annexing a copy of the order passed by the High Court Judge. In my opinion, therefore, even if Bhagwan Das did not produce a certified copy or the order nor tendered his affidavit in support of his assertion, yet his official letter filed along with an exact copy of the High Court's stay order was authentic enough to constitute notice of that order to the Municipal Board.

15. It has already been noticed that the office of the Municipal Board had unquestioningly accepted Bhagwan Das's letter and copy of the High Courts stay order and had also granted a written receipt for the same dated 31-3-1965 (Ex. C), bearing the seal of the Municipal Board. Likewise the Executive Officer and the Officer Incharge, who really represent the Municipal Board, had obviously accepted the letter of Bhagwan Das and its accompanying copy of the High Court's order as authentic and both of them had acted upon it by ordering its immediate implementation. It would, thus, be futile to argue that the Municipal Board did not have good notice of the stay order passed by the High Court.

16. It is necessary to point out that orders of the High Court and, for the matter of that, of all the courts of law, are to be implemented and acted upon with promptitude. If their implementation is unduly delayed, it would amount to showing scant respect to the court concerned and its judicial process, which would obviously be a serious contempt of that court, even though the person sought to be injuncted or restrained might have had no intention to flout the orders of the court, for in many cases the very object of obtaining the order of stay or restraint would be rendered nugatory and the thing sought to be enforced or restrained by the court might be accomplished or completed such as in the case of stay of demolition etc. Moreover, considerable delay in carrying out an order of a court after notice, without adequate explanation for laches, would by itself constitute serious contempt of court, inasmuch as it tends to undermine the prestige and authority of a court of law and the efficacy of its judicial process. A person who has obtained an order in his favour from a court is entitled to instant relief and its delayed implementation would discredit the administration of justice.

17. In Taradas Dutt v. Administrative Officer of the Corporation of Calcutta, AIR 1951 Cal 397 there was a complaint against the Calcutta Corporation of the existence of a nuisance on its public road by reason of keeping of cattle there. The magistrate had directed to abate the nuisance by removal of all cattle from the said premises within three months from the date of the order. In spite of the efflux of the aforesaid period of three months, the Corporation failed to remove the nuisance, with the result that on 25-9-1950 a petition was filed in the High Court of Calcutta for proceedings against the Corporation for contempt of court. However, when the rule came up for hearing on 6-12-1950, the order of the magistrate had already been carried out: nevertheless the High Court remarked 'But it was abundantly clear that there was considerable delay in carrying out the order'.

The Corporation in its reply had stated that it had not committed any contempt of court and had not deliberately flouted or disobeyed the order of the magistrate and further that the delay was due to administrative and financial difficulties. Under the above circumstances a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court observed:

'We have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that contempt was, committed .... The fact remains that me orders were not carried out. If a party obtains an order from the court for getting certain relief and the court has passed an order which, if carried out, would give him instant relief, and, because of somebody's failure to carry out the court's orders he if unable to obtain relief for such a longer period ........that is a result which is bound to bring Into discredit the administration of justice in the country. In our judgment that is very serious contempt of court,........'

18. It is true that in view of the observations of the Supreme Court in Hoshiar Singh's case, AIR 1962 SC 1089 the disobedience has to be wilful or intentional, but if the municipal board and its officers had deliberately delayed the implementation of the High Court's order dated 29-8-1965 they had to thank themselves, for they would at least be guilty of abetment of contempt, particularly when the implementation of the Him Court's order was deliberately sought to be delayed by raising frivolous objections or by designed inactivity.

19. The High Court's order is alleged to have been disobeyed on two occasions--first from 81-3-1965 to 6-4-1965 & the other on 18-4-1965. Respondents Nos. 1 to 5 are alleged to be responsible for flouting the order on both the occasions, while respondents Nos. 6 to 13 are said to be liable for disobedience of the order on 18-4-1965. Admittedly an authentic copy of the order of stay had been received by the Board officially from the High Court on 9-4-1965, which had duly been communicated to the various octroi posts by 17-4-1965, yet realisations of stand fee were admittedly made from some of the petitioners on 10-4-1965, by some of the respondents Nos. 6 to 13.

20. This leads us to the consideration of the individual cases of the various respondents other than Kanhaiya Lal, respondent No. 4, who has already been found guilty. However, before dealing with their individual cases, the following authoritative propositions of law have also to be borne in mind:

Oswald in his book on Contempt of Court has observed:

'Contempt of Court ...... is so manifold in its aspects that it is difficult to lay down any exact definition of the offence.......... To speak generally, contempt of Court will be said to be constituted by any conduct that tends to bring the authority and administration of law into disrespect or disregard, or to ........... prejudice parties, litigation or their witnesses..' Similarly, in Halsbury's Laws of England, III Edition, Volume 8 page 7, para 8 it has been laid down:

'Any act done .......... to interfere with the due course of justice or the lawful process of the court, is a contempt of court'. Likewise, in Corpus Juris Secundum, Volume 17, Article 8, page 16, it has been stated:

'An act or conduct to constitute contempt must be such as is ...... obstructive of the administration of justice or derogatory to the authority or dignity of the court'; and at pages 17 and 18 of the same volume appear the following words:

'To constitute contempt, there must be something in the circumstances under which the act is done that is plainly disrespectful to the court or hinders the administration of the affairs of the court.

'............ The essential elements which must concur in order for an act to be punishable are that the alleged contemner.... is guilty of neglect or violation of duty or of misconduct in performance of such service and that his neglect or violation of duty on his conduct in such respect has tendency to defeat, impair, delay, or prejudice rights or remedies of a party to a cause or matter pending in the court'. In Article 12, page 30 of the same volume, it has been observed:

'Violation of a court order by subterfuge is as much contempt of court as violation by more direct action' and again at page 33; 'Acts constituting contempt include aiding in the evasion of an injunction or other court order ........ or not doing what he is commanded or required to do by the process, order, or decree of the court. .... .or failing to transmit a court order to the person in charge'.

21. It has been conceded by the learned counsel for the petitioners, and I also find it to be, so, that no case has been made out against respondents Nos. 2, 5, 8, 10 and 11. Out of the remainder, the first respondent, Municipal Board of Aligarh, is clearly guilty of breach and disobedience of the stay order of the High Court dated 29-3-1965 on both the occasions, as the same had been duly communicated to it on 31-3-1965 and again on 9-4-1965. Yet it was not obeyed from 31-3-1965 to 6-4-1965 and was actually flouted on 18-4-1965.

22. The case of the third respondent, who is the Executive Officer of the Municipal Board of Aligarh, is somewhat different. Though he had ordered on 1-4-1965 and 5-4-1965 that the High Court's order was clear and needed compliance at once, yet he did not care to see that it was so implemented without any delay. Being the Executive Officer of the Board, it was his duty, as its chief administrative officer, to see that the order of the High Court was implemented forthwith. To quote his own words 'I comply promptly with the orders (of courts) without any loss of time. It is my duty to verify that the orders passed by the courts are complied forthwith. . ..... When the papers were placed before me on 5-4-1965 it was clear that nothing had been done in the matter meanwhile .... I did not ask for an explanation of any body why orders of the High Court had not been complied with till 5-4-1965 ..... I did not send direct information to various octroi posts on 5-4-1965 because the procedure is that it is done through Octroi Superintendent .... I was alive to the fact that the communication of the High Court's stay order had already been sufficiently delayed but I did not think it necessary to deviate from the normal course and send formal information to the barriers to stop realisation of the tax. As a matter of procedure, we do not issue instructions to the octroi barriers, but there is no prohibition under any law or rule restraining the Executive Officer from doing so'.

By failing to send direct information to the octroi posts concerned even on 5-4-1965 and by sticking to the leisurely and circuitous procedure of sending it through the normal channel, the Executive Officer has certainly aided and abetted disobedience of the High Court's stay order which had been served on the Board as far back as 31-3-1965.

Orders of stay or restraint passed by this Court are not ordinary or routine matters but are special and extraordinary directions requiring instant obedience. They have, therefore, to be implemented with all possible promptitude and, if necessary, must be communicated to the subordinates concerned by special and speedy means.

The conduct of the Executive Officer in not taking action to communicate the High Court's stay order, served on the Board on 31-3-1965 for another 5 or 6 days, even though he was fully alive to the fact that the communication of the High Court's order had already been sufficiently delayed is nothing but showing disrespect to this Court and its judicial process, inasmuch as he did not think it necessary to deviate from the normal office routine of sending information to octroi barriers, particularly when there was no prohibition under any law or rule restraining him from doing so. By such act and conduct the Executive officer has shown scant respect to stay order dated 29-3-1965 granted by this Court: as such he is clearly guilty of contempt.

It is surprising that there is not a word of regret either in his counter-affidavit or statement recorded in this Court. He has also improperly supported the disobedience of the High Court's order committed by some of his octroi Moharrirs and peons on 18-4-1965, on the ground that they had really not realised stand-fee from any of the petitioners on 18-4-1965 and that the petitioners were 'trying to take advantage of the similarity of names with persons, who are really different but who happen to possess the same names, as some of the petitioners'. Being the chief administrative Officer of the Board he is also responsible for the admitted disobdience committed by his subordinates and agents on 18-4-1965.

23. Respondent No. 6 Ahmad Khan is a peon at an octroi post of the Municipal Board, Aligarh, while respondent No. 7 Hoti Lal is a clerk at another octroi barrier. The charge against Ahmad Khan was that in spite of the High Court's stay order having long been communicated to him, he had realised stand-fee from Panna Lal and Sia Ram petitioners, on 18-4-65. On the other hand, the charge against Hoti Lal was that he had similarly realised stand-fee from Bhola Prasad petitioner on 18-4-65, in defiance of High Court's order of stay. Both these persons filed three affidavits and one application each in reply. In his affidavits dated 29-7-1965 and 24-9-1965 Ahmad Khan stated that he was personally acquainted with Panna Lal and Sia Ram who had given their parentage as Liladhar and Sumer respectively and that Panna Lal aforesaid belonged to Harduaganj and that he had realised stand-fee from them and not from Panna Lal and Siaram petitioners and that they were now trying to take undue advantage of resemblance of names. Similar was the contention of Hoti Lal.

In his affidavits dated 29-7-1965 and 24-9-1965, he deposed that the persons from whom he had realised stand-fee on 18-4-1965, was Bhola S/o Ghoorey, whom he knew personally and not from Bhola Prasad s/o Badri, petitioner. These two respondents also obtained faked documentary evidence and annexed the same to their respective affidavits. In their third affidavit dated 27-10-1965 they again reiterated that the persons from whom they had realised stand-fee were different from the petitioners in question, but this time they modified their original stand and stated that 'if in the rush of work any fee had been realised from the petitioners concerned, they were genuinely sorry.' The petitioners had in the meantime filed conclusive evidence to show that it was petitioners Siaram, Panna Lal and Bhola and none else from whom these respondents had realised stand-fee on 18-4-1965.

When they found that the cat was out of the bag, Ahmad Khan and Hoti Lal respondents had to climb down and filed their respective applications dated 4-11-1965 clearly admitting that the former had by mistake realised stand-fee from petitioners Siaram and Panna Lal, while the latter had realised similar fee from petitioner Bhola. It was at this stage that they tendered unqualified apology. Such a belated apology cannot be accepted, particularly when these respondents had persistently set up false case in support or their contention and had further filed faked documentary evidence as well as affidavits of the Executive Officer and the Demand Inspector to strengthen their vain cause. They are, therefore, found guilty of gross contempt.

24. So far as Hoti Lal is concerned, the position is much worse. He had the audacity of addressing 4 or 5 letters to this Court. The said letters related to the subject matter of the pending enquiry and purported to represent himself as a person more sinned against than sinning. These letters further attempted to shift the blame on certain other respondents. I was, therefore, obliged to issue another notice to Hoti Lal in regard thereto. In his deposition dated 18-11-1965, he admitted to have written 4 or 5 letters to this Court, during the pendency of this contempt case. He also admitted that he had been suspended by the Municipal Board for having realised stand-fee from Bhola petitioner, in defiance of the High Court's order. However, he could not show any reason why he should not be punished for such an improper action, except that he was ignorant about the matter and was greatly worried and perturbed on account of his suspension. I am, therefore, of the view that this man deserves severer punishment.

25. This brings us to the consideration of the cases of respondents Nos. 9, 12 and 13 viz. Sonpal Singh, Jagarnath and Hari Narain. They all admitted their mistake in a straight-forward manner for having unwittingly realised stand fee from petitioners Bhola Prasad and Panna Lal and tendered unqualified apology for the same. Theirs is a fit case in which the apology, tendered at the outset, should be accepted.

26. In the result, no case having been made out against respondents Nos. 2, 5, 8, 10 and 11, the notices issued to them are discharged. Respondents Nos. 9, 12 and 13 having tendered unqualified apology at the outset, the same is hereby accepted and no further action is necessary against them. The notices issued to them are also discharged.

27. The charge of contempt is fully proved against respondents Nos. 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7. Respondent No. 1 is the unfortunate Municipal Board, Aligarh, which has not only been superseded but is manned with irresponsible persons like these contemners. This being a corporate body it acts only through its officers and employees. I, therefore, impose on it a fine of Rs. 100/- only by way of punishment. Respondent No. 3 is the Executive Officer, who had acted properly and with promptitude in the beginning, but later on he fell in line with his Demand Inspector and showed scant respect to the stay order of this Court by deliberately deferring its communication to the octroi barriers concerned, though he had realised that implementation of the order had already been considerably delayed. I, therefore, impose a fine of Rs. 200/- on him. Respondent No. 4, Kanhaiya Lal, Demand Inspector is the real evil genius. His conduct has been most reprehensible. I, therefore, impose a fine of Rs. 500/- on him, which shall be paid within one month. In case of default, he shall undergo simple imprisonment for fifteen days. Respondent No. 6, Ahmad Khan peon, shall pay a fine of Rs. 100/- for not only having disobeyed the order of the Court but further wrongly justifying it, till he was fully exposed. Respondent No. 7 Hoti Lal Moharrir, had acted likewise and had further aggravated his offence by sending letters to this Court. He is fined Rs. 200/-. All the fines shall be paid within one month.

28. This case was heard on a number ofdates. I accordingly order respondents Nos. 1,3, 4, 6 and 7 to pay Rs. 300/- as costs to thepetitioners and Rs. 100/- as costs to the State Counsel (Miss N. A. Rahman) which shall also be paid within one month.


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