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Virochan Vs. Ram Saran Dass - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1982CriLJ1219
AppellantVirochan
RespondentRam Saran Dass
Cases ReferredSaleemuddin v. Sharfuddin
Excerpt:
.....concerned acquire knowledge of passing of the said order. - the objections were also dismissed but in spite of that he failed to deliver the possession. further, time granted by the supreme court in the special leave petition was subject to the respondent's furnishing an undertak-;ng within a period of two weeks that he would hand over the peaceful vacant possession of the premises to the petitioner on or before the expiry of six months, which he failed to do. that clearly meant that the decree which was passed by the trial court and maintained by the high court was further maintained by the supreme court and did not amount to any modification of the decree. he not only failed to deliver possession to the respondent but when it was delivered to him, he forcibly dispossessed him......the appellant had given a solemn undertaking to the high court to hand over the possession of the premises in his possession. in view of the undertaking the revision petition, was dismissed. he committed breach of the undertaking. it was observed by beg j., speaking for the court, that the case being a case of deliberate violation of an undertaking to the court the effect was the same as that of breach of an injunction. hence it amounted to contempt of court. a similar case came up before the delhi high court in saleemuddin v. sharfuddin : air1980delhi39 . it was held there that a breach of an undertaking given to the court amounts to a contempt in the same way as a breach of an injunction and is likely to be visited by the same punishment as for a breach of an injunction.14. after.....
Judgment:
ORDER

Rajendra Nath Mittal, J.

1. The case of the petitioner is that he is the landlord of the land in dispute which was under the tenancy of Ram Saran Dass respondent. He filed an application Under Section 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act for the ejectment of the respondent, before the Rent Controller, Jullundur. On 15th June, 1979 the Rent Controller accepted the application and ordered ejectment of the respondent. Against that order he went up in appeal before the Appellate Authority, which was dismissed on 10th Oct. 1980. Later he filed revision petition (Civil Revision No. 226 of 1980) in this Court, which met the same fate on 19th Nov. 1980. However, he made a request for granting some time for vacating the premises. He also gave an undertaking that he would vacate the premises on or before 19th Jan. 1981, subject to his right to approach the Supreme Court by way of special leave petition. He also undertook to deposit the arrears of rent, if any, and also the rent for the next two months on or before 19th Dec. 1980, before the Rent Controller. On the said undertaking he was granted time up to 19th Jan. 1981.

2. The respondent filed a special leave petition (S. L. P. 679 of 1981) in the Supreme Court, which was again dismissed. The Supreme Court, however, directed that the order for eviction be not executed before the expiry of six months if the respondent filed an undertaking that he would hand over the peaceful vacant possession to the petite nr on or before the expiry of six months. The respondent did not file any undertaking as ordered by the Supreme Court. It is alleged that he deposited the appears of rent on 19th Dec. 1980 but he refused to vacate the premises as undertaken by him in this Court. On the other hand, he filed objection petition in execution proceedings, which conduct of the respondent amounts to contempt of Court. The objections were also dismissed but in spite of that he failed to deliver the possession.

3. It is further alleged that the respondent had moved an application in the Rehabilitation Department that the property belonged to that department. He continued to pursue that application before the Rehabilitation Department. It Is, consequently, prayed that he may be punished under the Contempt of Courts Act.

4. The main question that arises for determination is, if the respondent after giving an undertaking to vacate the premises by a particular date did not do so, whether he is guilty of contempt of Court. It is not disputed that the counsel for the respondent gave an undertaking on 19th Nov. 1980 that the respondent would vacate the premises after two months and would deposit the arrears of rent and also the future rent by 19th Dec. 1980. The order dt. 19th Nov. 1980 reads as follows:

At this stage Mr. Sarin has made a request for granting some time for vacating the premises in dispute. The counsel undertakes on behalf of the petitioner to vacate the premises on or before 19-1-1981 subject to his right to approach the Supreme Court by way of Special Leave Petition. The counsel also undertakes on behalf of the petitioner to deposit arrears of rent, if any, on or before 19-12-1980 in the Court of the Rent Controller as also the rent for the next two months, Ordered accordingly.

On that undertaking he was given two months' further time to vacate the premises. On 25th Nov. 1980 he made a statement in the executing Court that a stay order had been granted by the High Court. The case was adjourned to 27th Nov. 1980 for filing a copy of the order or an affidavit in that regard. On 27th Nov. 1980 the respondent produced a copy of the order dt. 19th Nov. 1980 before the executing Court. Thereafter he also deposited the arrears of rent as ordered by the High Court. The executing Court, in view of the orders of the High Court, did not execute the order of ejectment.

5. The respondent also filed a special leave petition (Civil) No. 679 of 1981 against the order of dismissal of the revision petition, dt. 19th Nov. 1980, by this Court, in the Supreme Court of India, which was dismissed on 15th Jan. 1981. However, the Supreme Court directed that the order of eviction would not be executed before the expiry of six months on the condition that the respondent filed an undertaking in that Court within two weeks, to the effect that he would hand over the vacant and peaceful possession of the premises to the petitioner on or before the expiry of six months: He did not file any undertaking as ordered by the Supreme Court.

6. The learned Counsel for the respondent has argued that the order dt. l'9th Nov. 1980 containing the undertaking given by the counsel for the respondent has merged with the order of the Supreme Court and. therefore the respon- dent cannot be held to be guilty of the contempt of Court in case he has not vacated the premises in accordance therewith. In support of his contention he made reference to Commr. of Income-tax, Bombay v. Amritlal Bhogilal and Co. : [1958]34ITR130(SC) ; Collector of Customs, Calcutta v. East India Commercial Co. Ltd., Calcutta : [1963]2SCR563 and Krishan Kumar v. Financial Commr., Taxation, Punjab, 1981 Rev LR 206.

7. I have given due consideration to the argument of the learned Counsel but regret my inability to accept it. No appeal is maintainable against the order of dismissal of the revision petition as a matter of right. However, the aggrieved party is entitled to make special leave petition under Article 136 of the Constitution of India to allow him to file an appeal against such an order. In case the Supreme Court allows the petition, he can file an appeal, otherwise not. In the present case the respondent, as already stated above, moved a special leave petition, which was dismissed. Thus the dismissal of the special leave petition by the Supreme Court will not amount to dismissal of the appeal against the order dt. 19th Nov. 1980 by it. Therefore, it cannot be said that the order of this Court merged with that of the Supreme Court. The granting of the stay by that Court also does not amount to modification of the order of ejectment. Further, time granted by the Supreme Court in the special leave petition was subject to the respondent's furnishing an undertak-;ng within a period of two weeks that he would hand over the peaceful vacant possession of the premises to the petitioner on or before the expiry of six months, which he failed to do. In the aforesaid view I find support from Nand-kishore v. Sau. Inderabai Holkar : AIR1981MP21 . In that case a decree for ejectment by the trial Court was affirmed by the High Court. Special leave petition against the decree of the High Court was dismissed by the Supreme Court, but it put a rider that the decree would not be executed up to a particular date. It was held that the Supreme Court only directed that the decree of eviction Will not be executed up to a particular date. That clearly meant that the decree which was passed by the trial Court and maintained by the High Court was further maintained by the Supreme Court and did not amount to any modification of the decree. It only put a rider on the execution thereof. In M/s. Amritlal Bhogilal's case : [1958]34ITR130(SC) (supra) it has been observed that if an appeal was provided against an order passed by a tribunal, the decision of the appellate authority was the operative decision in law irrespective of whether it confirmed, modified or reversed the decision of the tribunal. Similar observations have been made in East India Commercial Co.'s case : [1963]2SCR563 and Krishan Kumar's case 1981 Rev LR 206)(Punj)(supra). There is no dispute about the principles laid in those cases. The observations therein, however, are not applicable to the facts of this case.

8. It may also be highlighted that the respondent did not furnish any undertaking i regarding the handing over of the peaceful possession of the property within a period of six months as directed by the- Supreme Court. Therefore, the conditional stay granted by that Court cannot be deemed to have come into operation. Conseauently, I am of the opinion that the undertaking given by the respondent for vacating the premises within a rjeriod of two months i.e. on or before 19th Jan. 1981' remained in operation and he cannot be allowed to say that that order will merge with that of the Supreme Court.

9. Faced with that situation, the learned Counsel for the respondent has sought to urge that the property belong-1 ed to Rehabilitation Department and the latter moved an application before the Rent Controller, in the application for ejectment, that the Union of India should be made a party. It was dismissed on 25th Nov. 1978 by him, observing that the orders passed in the ejectment application would not in any way affect the rights which the Union of India might have in the premises. Later, on 31st Oct. 1980 the Assistant Custodian of Evacuee Property took cognizance of the matter and ordered status quo, which was later confined on 11th Nov. l'98O, by him. On 5th Mar. 1981 the order of status quo regarding possession was affirmed by the Custodian General, Punjab. He urged that the property was an evacuee property., and therefore the orders of' the Rehabilitation Authorities are binding on the petitioner and he could not get its possession from the respondent.

10. On the other hand, the learned Counsel for the petitioner has urged that the respondent had moved the application before the Rehabilitation Authorities to bypass the order of ejectment passed by the Rent Controller and affirmed by the High Court. He also challenged the jurisdiction of the Rehabilitation Authorities to take cognizance of the matter.

11. I have given my thoughtful consideration to the arguments of the learned Counsel. It is not necessary to determine as to whether the Rehabilitation Authorities had the jurisdiction to take cognizance of the matter or not. The Rehabilitation Authorities took cognizance at the instance of the respondent. He had approached them in order to circumvent the orders of ejectment. If after giving the undertaking he chose to take such an action, that itself tantamounts to contempt of the Court. After surrendering the possession to the petitioner, he could take legal action but he could not do so prior to that. The orders of the Assistant Custodian and the Custodian General, ordering status quo regarding possession between the parties, are in contravention of the order of ejectment passed by the Rent Controller and affirmed by this Court. No provision has been brought to my notice under which they could pass such orders. Therefore, the respondent cannot derive any benefit from the said orders. Even if the order of status quo is assumed to be legal, the respondent had no right to flout the order of ejectment by taking shelter under the order of the Assistant Custodian or the Custodian General, and refuse to deliver possession.

12. 'Civil Contempt' .according to Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, includes wilful breach of an undertaking given to a Court. It has been held at p. 44 Vol. IX of the Halsbury's Laws of England (4th Edition) that an undertaking given to the Court by a person in pending proceedings on the faith of which the Court sanctions a particular course of action or inaction, has the same force as an injunction made by the Court and a breach of the undertaking is misconduct amounting to contempt.

13. From the narration of the facts given above, it is evident that the respondent has committed wilful breach of the undertaking given by him. It squarely falls within the definition of the 'civil contempt'. Same view was taken by the Supreme Court in Chhaganbhai Norsin-bhai v. Soni Chandubhai Gordhanbhai : [1976]3SCR786 . In that case the appellant had given a solemn undertaking to the High Court to hand over the possession of the premises in his possession. In view of the undertaking the revision petition, was dismissed. He committed breach of the undertaking. It was observed by Beg J., speaking for the Court, that the case being a case of deliberate violation of an undertaking to the Court the effect was the same as that of breach of an injunction. Hence it amounted to contempt of Court. A similar case came up before the Delhi High Court in Saleemuddin v. Sharfuddin : AIR1980Delhi39 . It was held there that a breach of an undertaking given to the Court amounts to a contempt in the same way as a breach of an injunction and is likely to be visited by the same punishment as for a breach of an injunction.

14. After taking into consideration the above said facts, I am of the view that the respondent is guilty of contempt of the Court: The circumstances of the case go to show that his conduct has been highly contumacious. Thus, he does not deserve any leniency. I, therefore, sentence him to undergo simple imprisonment for three months and to pay a fine of Rs. 2,000/-, or in default of payment of fine to undergo further simple imprisonment for one month.

15. Mr. Seth has stated that the executing Court delivered possession of the property in dispute to the petitioner but he was simultaneously dispossessed by the respondent. He requests that the warrant for possession be issued so that the petitioner may get possession of the property. I have given due consideration to the argument. The respondent had given an undertaking that he would deliver peaceful possession of the property to the petitioner but he committed breach of the undertaking for which he; has been held guilty of contempt of th0 Court. He not only failed to deliver possession to the respondent but when it was delivered to him, he forcibly dispossessed him. He had no right to do so; Consequently, the petitioner is entitled to get possession of the property. I had also asked the respondent to deliver possession of the property peacefully to the petitioner but he did not agree to it. this Court has inherent powers to issue warrant of possession to do justice between the parties. In the aforesaid view, I am fortified by the observations in Saleem-uddin's case : AIR1980Delhi39 (supra) of Delhi High Court, I, consequently, direct that the warrant of possession be issued in favour of the petitioner and police assistance may be given to him.


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