S.K. Mal Lodha, J.
1. The appellants : (1) S.P. Wahi, Chairman. Oil and Natural Gas Commission, Deharadun and (2) R. Srinivasan, Member Personnel. Oil and Natural Gas Commission, have filed this appeal under Section 19(1)(a) of the Contempt of Courts Act (No. IXX of 1971) (which will hereinafter for the sake of brevity be referred to as 'the Act'), questioning the correctness of the order dated December 3, 1982, passed by the learned single Judge of this Court in S. D. Civil Contempt Petition No. 75 of 1982. by which, the appellants were directed to attend the Court on the next date i. e. January 3, 1983.
2. The respondent (who was petitioner in the writ petition) filed a writ petition under Article 226 of 'the Constitution on September, 16, 1980. seeking, inter alia, to quash the seniority list Ex. 2 dated September 3. 1979. Along with the writ petition, a stay petition was submitted praying that Oil and Natural Gas Commission, Deharadun (for short 'the Commission') may be restrained from promoting non-petitioners No. 2 to 10 in the writ petition to the post of Geophysicist (Instrumentation) Executive Engineer (Electronics) without first considering the petitioner (respondent) for promotion pending the decision of the writ petition. On February 6, 1981. the following interim order was passed:
Shri Surendra Singh petitioner and his counsel Mr. B. L. Purohit have filed an application that the Respondent No. 1 i.e. Oil and Natural Gas Commission Dehradun has agreed to provisionally promote the petitioner along with Respondents Nos. 2 to 10. The petitioner, therefore, undertakes that in case his writ petition is dismissed and the petitioner is required to be reverted, he will make good the loss to Respondent No. 1 on account of his provisional promotion. This application is signed by Mr. N. P. Gupta Advocate appearing on behalf of Respondent No. 1, who also submits that the petitioner will be provisionally promoted along with Respondents Nos. 2 to 10. Hence the ad interim stay order passed by this Court on 1-10-1980 is modified accordingly.
A contempt petition was filed by the respondent on July 12. 1982 stating that the Commission as well as the appellants are wilfully flouting the undertaking given before the Court on February 6, 1981 and, therefore, they are guilty of wilful disobedience of the Court's order and have, thus committed contempt of the Court. The contempt petition came up before the learned Judge on July 15, 1982. On that day, he ordered that notices be issued to the Commission as well as the appellants to show cause, on August 2. 1982. why they should not be punished for contempt of Court, In pursuance of that notice, appearance was put in on October 8, 1982, on behalf of the Commission and the learned Counsel for the appellants stated that he will file power of attorney on their behalf also. On December 3, 1982, an adjournment was sought on behalf of the Commission as well as the appellants. On that day, the learned Judge directed the appellants (alleged contemners No. 2 and 3) to attend the Court on the next date i.e. January 3, 1983,
3. Aggrieved by the order dated December 3. 1982, the appellants have filed this appeal as aforesaid. The appeal was admitted on December 20, 1982. Mr. B. L. Purohit, has appeared on behalf of the respondent.
4. D. B. Civil Misc. Stay Application No. 4 of 1982 was filed on behalf of the appellants. That application was dismissed for want of prosecution on January 5, 1983. D. B. Civil Misc. Second Stay Application No. Nil of 1983 was filed on January 6. 1983. When that second stay application was taken up for orders today, two preliminary objections were raised on behalf of the respondent regarding the maintainability of the appeal. After considering the submissions and the authorities cited by the learned Counsel for the parties, and the relevant provisions of the Act, the Court was of the opinion that no prinia facie case for staying the operation of the order under challenge is made out. The second stay application was dismissed.
5. After the dismissal of the second stay application, learned Counsel for the appellants stated that the appeal may finally be disposed of. As the learned Counsel for the respondent had no objection to it, we heard the arguments.
6. Two preliminary objections were raised by Mr. B. L. Purohit. learned Counsel for the respondent, which are:
(1) that the appeal is not maintainable for the reason that it is against an interlocutory order directing the appellants to attend personally and therefore, it is not an 'order' or decision' so as to be appealable under Section 19(1) of the Act: and
(2) that the appeal has not been properly constituted as merely the informant or relator has been impleaded as respondent and the Rajasthan High Court which is a necessary party to the appeal has not been joined. The appeal, therefore, suffers from the defect of non-joinder of necessary parties. Mr. B. Datta learned Counsel for the appellants opposed the preliminary objections and pressed that the order dated December 3, 1982, directing the appellants to attend Court, is an 'order' which is appealable under Section 19(1)' of the Act and the High Court which ordered for the issuance of notice to show cause why the appellants and the Commission be not punished for contempt of Court is not at all a necessary party. In regard to the merits of the appeal, learned Counsel for the appellants urged that the direction to the appellants to attend the Court personally, in the facts and circumstances of the case, should not have been given and more so, there are no reasons for making such a direction and that the learned Judge should not have initiated contempt proceedings as they were barred by time under Section 20 of the Act.
7. We have considered the submissions made by the learned Counsel for the parties
8. We take up the first preliminary objection first, viz., whether the order dated December 3, 1982, directing the appellants to attend the Court on January 3, 1983 is appealable.
9. Material portion of Section 19(1) of the Act is as under:-
19. Appeals:- (I) An appeal shall lie as of right from any order or direction of High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt- (a) where the order or decision is that of a single Judge, to a Bench of not less than two Judges of the Court:
Sec. 19(1) of the Act came up for consideration in Baradakanta v. Misra C.J. (Orissa High Court : 1975CriLJ1 In that case, it was held that where the Court rejects a motion or a reference and declines to initiate a proceeding for contempt, it refuses to assume or exercise jurisdiction to punish for contempt, and that such a decision would not. therefore, fall within the opening words of Section 19(i) of the Act and no appeal would lie against it as of right under that provision.
10. In Purushottam Dass v. B.S. Dhillon : 1978CriLJ772 an appeal was filed by the contemner under Section 19(1) of the Act from the order of the High Court directing the issuance of notice to him to show cause why he should not be proceeded against for committing the contempt of court. The notice was issued in accordance with the procedure prescribed under Section 17 of the Act to show cause against the appellant's alleged liability to be punished under Section 15 of the Act. a preliminary objection was raised by the learned Soliciter General on behalf of the respondent that no appeal lay to the Supreme Court under Section 19 of the Act from an order issuing notice as nothing yet had been decided by the High Court. While dealing with the preliminary objection, Baradakanta's case 1975 Cri LJ 1 (SO and Baradakanta v. Orissa High Court : 1976CriLJ944 were relied on. It was observed:
But unless and until there is some order or decision of the High Court adjudicating upon any matter raised before it by the parties, affecting their rights the mere order issuing the notice is not appealable.
It is clear from the aforesaid three decisions of the Supreme Court, what only those orders or decisions are appealable under Section 19(1) in which the Court adjudicates or records findings in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. It is not each and every order passed during the contempt proceedings that is appealable but any such order which determines any matter raised before the Court by the parties in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt that is appealable. Every interlocutory order which is not passed in exercise of the jurisdiction of the Court to punish for contempt is not appealable.
11. It may be recalled that after the 'filing of the contempt petition, the Court ordered for the issuance of notice to the Commission and the appellants on July 15, 1982 to show cause on Aug. 2, 1982 as to why they should not be punished for contempt of this Court. After the service of notices, on the Commission as well as the appellants, the petition was adjourned on Oct. 8, 1982 for filing power of attorney on behalf of the appellants. It was stated that the learned Counsel for the Commission may file 'Vakalatnama' along with the reply on Nov. 2. 1982. On Dec. 3.- 1982, on behalf of the Commission and the appellants, adjournment was sought to argue the contempt petition. The respondent had no objection. It was on that date (December 3. 1982) that the learned Judge directed the appellants alleged contemners No. 2 and 3) to attend the Court on the next date i. e. Jan. 3, 1983. Rule 224 (3) of the High Court Rules provides that notice which is issued to the person to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of court, will require him to appear unless otherwise, orderd in person before the Court at time and on the date specified therein to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of Court. As stated above, the orders or decisions en-, visaged under Section 19(1) of the Act are those orders or decisions which are passed in exercise of the court's jurisdiction to punish for contempt. The direction to the appellants to attend the Court, in our considered opinion, is merely an interlocutory order and it does not decide any contention raised by the alleged contemners. The interlocutory order with which we are concerned, contains a direction to the appellants to attend the Court and this direction was made on the date when the learned Counsel appearing for the appellants wanted time to argue the contempt petition. The court merely wanted the appellants to appear on the next date fixed i. e. Jan, 3, 1983 for the arguments of the contempt petition. No rights or contentions of the alleged contemners were decided on that day. The direction to the appellants to attend the court cannot be said to be an order passed by the Court in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. Keeping in view the principles laid down by the Supreme Curt in the aforesaid three decisions and Section 19(1) of the Act, we have no hesitation to say that no appeal lay against the order dated Dec. 3, 1982. The appellants have no right to appeal and it is not competent and, therefore, not maintainable. We. therefore, uphold the first preliminary objection viz., that the order dated December 3, 1982 directing the appellants (alleged contemners Nos. 2 and 3) to attend the court on the next date i. e. Jan. 3. 1983 is not appealable under Section 19(1) of the Act.
12. As the first preliminary objection has been upheld, we do not consider it necessary to examine the other preliminary objection that the appeal has not been properly constituted as it suffers frni the non-joinder of the necessary party, viz., High Court, which has passed the order dated Dec. 3, 1982.
13. In view of this, it is not necessary to examine the merits of the appeal.
14. The appeal is dismissed as being not maintainable.
15. learned Counsel for the appellants states that the next date fixed in the Contempt Petition before the learned Judge is 27-1-1983. He wants to file a petition for Special Leave to Appeal before the Supreme Court. He prays that operation of the order dated Dec. 3. 1982 directing for personal attendance, passed by the learned single Judge may be stayed for a period of four weeks. Mr. B.L. Purohit opposes the prayer made by the learned Counsel for the appellants.
16. Having regard to the facts that the next date fixed before the learned Judge is Jan. 27. 1983, and that the appellants should get reasonable time for filing the petition for Special Leave to Appeal before the Supreme Court. We order for the stay of the operation of the order dated Dec. 3. 1982 for a period of four weeks from today.