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Municipal Corporation of Delhi and anr. Vs. Rajinder Mohan and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberF.A.O. (OS) No. 97 of 1980
Judge
Reported in23(1983)DLT398
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) - Order 39, Rules 1 and 2
AppellantMunicipal Corporation of Delhi and anr.
RespondentRajinder Mohan and ors.
Appellant Advocate Arun Kumar, Adv
Respondent Advocate K.K. Mehra, Adv.
DispositionAppeal dismissed
Cases ReferredThe Aliqarh Municipal Board and Ors. v. Ekka Tonga Mazdoor Union and
Excerpt:
.....along with the said corporation - - 5. though the learned counsel made some attempt to show that shri khem chand had no knowledge of the order passed by the court and had also tried to verify the facts from the law office of the municipal corporation but had failed to get any information about a stay order regarding the vacation of the injunction we are satisfied that this is a very clear case of contempt and we cannot possibly interfere with the orders and nor can the reasoning of the learned single judge be faulted. ekka tonga mazdoor union and others, 1970crilj1520 .7. we are satisfied that that judgment has not the slightest bearing on the question in this case. the party to the case was the municipal corporation of delhi and when an injunction was issued against the municipal..........of the code of civil procedure read with section 12 of the contempt of courts act, 1971, whereby shri khem chand, director of enquiries, municipal corporation of delhi, was held guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to pay a fine of rs. 3,000/-.2. shortly stated, the learned single judge (prithvi raj j.) vacated the ex-parte injunction by a judgment dated 23rd may, 1978. this judgment was the same which was under appeal in f.a.o. (o.s.) no. 20 of 1978, before a division bench, which has been listed along with this case and has now become infructuous. on the same date, i.a. no. 2096/78 was filed prayingthat the operation of the order vacating the injunction be stayed. this application was heard after notice to the counsel for the respondents on 24th may, 1978, and was opposed. but,.....
Judgment:

D.K. Kapur, J.

1. This appeal was listed along with F.A.O. (O.S.) No. 20 of 1980, and arises from the same proceedings, namely, the interim injunction granted in Suit No. 1109 of 1977. The facts of the case have been set out at some length in the judgment of the learned Single Judge deciding the petition under Order 39, Rule 2A of the Code of Civil Procedure read with Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, whereby Shri Khem Chand, Director of Enquiries, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, was held guilty of Contempt of Court and sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 3,000/-.

2. Shortly stated, the learned Single Judge (Prithvi Raj J.) vacated the ex-parte injunction by a judgment dated 23rd May, 1978. This judgment was the same which was under appeal in F.A.O. (O.S.) No. 20 of 1978, before a Division Bench, which has been listed along with this case and has now become infructuous. On the same date, I.A. No. 2096/78 was filed prayingthat the operation of the order vacating the injunction be stayed. This application was heard after notice to the counsel for the respondents on 24th May, 1978, and was opposed. But, the Court passed the stay order so as to give the plaintiff an opportunity to appeal to the Division Bench. According to the case at the contempt stage, a number of persons came to the residence of the petitioner on 25th May, 1978, at 10-30 in the morning along with eight truck loads of police personnel. This party wished to demolish the building in question, i.e., the alleged unauthorised construction. According to the petitioner, these persons were informed that the order had been stayed and, thereforee, the original injunction was in force and it would amount to Contempt of Court if the property was demolished. However, the respondents refused to restrain their hands and commenced demolition activities. The contempt application was listed before Prithvi Raj J., on 25th May, 1978, and notice was issued to the counsel for the Municipal Corporation for 26th May, 1978, and a Commissioner was also appointed. The Commissioner had some difficulty in obtaining the record, but eventually did get the same.

3. In resisting the application for contempt, the main affidavit was that of Shri Khem Chand, Director of Enquiries, Municipal Corporation, who stated that the deponent had no knowledge of the order passed suspending the operation of the vacation of the injunction and believed on the basis of the original order vacating the injunction that they were free to remove and demolish the unauthorised construction. The deponent also stated that the plaintiff had said that he had got a stay order, but was unable to produce any copy of that order. The deponent also contacted the Law Office of the Municipal Corporation, but was told by Shri Oberoi, the Law Assistant that he was not aware of any such stay order. The other respondents had filed similar affidavits.

4. The learned Single Judge concluded from these circumstances that the demolition was carried out in violation of the orders of the Court. The learned Single Judge has further examined the facts in some detail and has reached the conclusion that there is no defense in the case.

5. Though the learned counsel made some attempt to show that Shri Khem Chand had no knowledge of the order passed by the Court and had also tried to verify the facts from the Law Office of the Municipal Corporation but had failed to get any information about a stay order regarding the vacation of the injunction we are satisfied that this is a very clear case of contempt and we cannot possibly interfere with the orders and nor can the reasoning of the learned Single Judge be faulted.

6. There is one important aspect of this matter which has been high' lighted in the contentions by the learned counsel. The question is that the party to the case is the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, but the persons who have been held guilty of contempt are employees of that Corporation. It was submitted that in fact no one could be held guilty of contempt if he was not communicated the order. Before the learned Single judge, the same argument was raised on the basis of the judgment in The Aliqarh Municipal Board and Ors. v. Ekka Tonga Mazdoor Union and others, : 1970CriLJ1520 .

7. We are satisfied that that judgment has not the slightest bearing on the question in this case. The party to the case was the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and when an injunction was issued against the Municipal Corporation, it bound that Corporation as well as all its employees. The Corporation is a mere statutory body, it has no physical existence being an inanimate entity. The only persons who can obey the orders of the Court are the officers and employees of the Corporation. It cannot be expected that the Court has to serve every single employee of the Corporation before an injunction can be effective. We are, thereforee, of the view that the injunction bound not only the Corporation, but also, all its employees, officers and other persons carrying out the orders of the Corporation. Once the order was passed in the Court staying the order vacating the injunction, it was for the Corporation to see that the effect of this order was to keep the injunction alive for a further period of 15 days. The Corporation, should thereforee, have desisted from any action for a period of 15 days as ordered by the Court. It could not allow the order of the Court to be thwarted by failing to inform some of its employees. There is no doubt that the party who is guilty of breach of the injunction is the Corporation itself. Shri Khem Chand was a mere employee of the Corporation carrying out directions issued to him. The fact of the matter is that the learned Single Judge has held only respondent No. 2 guilty of willful and delibsrate contempt of Court. It is a sorry state of affairs that the Corporation should have allowed the blame to fall on one of its employees rather than take responsibility for its own wrong order.

8. The parties to the contempt application, LA. No. 2162/78 are: Shri Rajendra Mohan,--petitioner/plaintiff and the respondents are--(1) The Municipal Corporation of Delhi, (2) Shri Khem Chand, Z.A.C., (3) Shri Mathur, A.Z.B., (4) Shri K.R. Gosain, Overseer, (5) Shri Pande, Executive Engineer, (6) Shri Amrit Lal Aggarwal, Engineer, (7) Shri Iqbal Ahmed, S.O., (8) Shri Ranjit Singh, member Staff, (9) Ch. Charan Singh, and (10) Mr. Behl, S.O.

9. The application also states that there were many others known and un-known who will be imp leaded when they disclosed their identity. Thus, in actual fact a large group of persons employed by the Municipal Corporation were responsible for a breach of the injunction. Though the learned Single Judge has held only Shri Khem Chand guilty, there is little to choose between him and all the others. A number of photographs were placed on the record being the photographs taken on 25th May, 1978, at the time of the alleged demolition. The same show the presence of a large number of persons including a lot of police officials. Ultimately, the contempt has been committed by the Municipal Corporation and not only by some of its officials.

10. Learned counsel for the appellants urged before us that Shri Khem Chand who has been convicted, has been given the blame and has to pay a fine of Rs. 3,000/-. We agree that the contempt has been committed generally by all the persons including the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, but as this is an appeal only against the conviction, we are unable to do anything in this matter regarding the other persons. It was also contended before us that Shri Khem Chand would suffer in his career because of the decision of the Court. We are not impressed by this argument. Shri Khem Chand was only carrying out orders, being an employee of the Municipal Corporation. If an injunction order is issued against a party who breaks the same by directing an employee to break it, then it is the party who is guilty, and so also, the employee. But, the employee is acting under orders, so ultimately it is for the employer to pay the fine or suffer the consequences.

11. We would accordingly dismiss the appeal holding that there is no ground for interference with conviction, but we would at the same time say that it is really the Municipal Corporation of Delhi which is guilty of the contempt and they should re-compense Shri Khem Chand for the fine because he was only carrying out the orders of the Corporation which is fully and truly responsible for the contempt itself.


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