Vyas Dev Misra, C.J.
1. This is an application Under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 alleging that the respondents have committed a civil contempt; by disobeying the orders passed by this Court.
2. The petitioner, who is a resident of village Mandroli, Sub-Tehsil Koth-khai, District Simla, applied for the grant of 10 bighas 15 biswas of nautor land for horticulture purposes under the Himachal Pradesh Nautor Land Rules, 1968. The Revenue Assistant Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil) Theog, by his order dated 27th Sept. 1972 granted the nautor land in terms of Rule 16. The petitioner was directed to deposit Rupees 537-50 paise as nazrana for the land and Rs. 7,745-10 paise on account of the price of the trees standing on the said land. When the petitioner approached the Head Vernacular Clerk of the Deputy Commissioner at Simla for depositing the amount, an objection was raised that the petitioner did not comply with the requirement of living in the estate concerned from generation to generation. Before any action could be taken, a fire broke out in the office of the Deputy Commissioner. The petitioner's file was destroyed in the fire. After the file was reconstructed the Deputy Commissioner directed the Revenue Assistant, Theog, to review the matter on the question whether the petitioner was a resident of the estate concerned from generation to generation since this was the definition of the word 'resident' in the rules. The petitioner moved this Court by filing Civil Writ Petn. No. 183 of 1974, praying for a writ of mandamus for directions to the Deputy Commissioner, Simla for the grant of the patta. A learned single Judge of this Court by a judgment dated May 30, 1975 came to the conclusion that: 'there can be no dispute that the petitioner fulfils the requirements of a bona fide Himachali1' but since the Nautor Rules did not have any statutory force the petition was not sustainable. On appeal (L. P. A. No. 44 of 1975) a Division Bench of this Court by a judgment D/- 8-12-1978 allowed the appeal on the ground that the Nautor Rules had the force of law and that the definition of the word 'resident' requiring a person to have been living from generation to generation offends Article 14 of the Constitution and has to be struck down. The operative part of the judgment is in the following terms :
In view of this, we allow this appeal and remand the matter back to the Deputy Commissioner, Simla, to consider the question whether the appellant is covered by the definition of 'resident' or not in the light of the observations made by us in the common judgment.
3. Instead of complying with the directions the then Deputy Commissioner, Simla, directed the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil), Theog, to decide the matter afresh in view of the judgment of this Court. The petitioner avers that he was made to run between Simla and Theog without his matter being decided according to the directions given by this Court. Ultimately the petitioner was forced to file another Civil Writ Petn, No. 266 of 1979. On Nov. 7, 1979 the Advocate General gave an assurance to the Court that the matter would be decided expeditiously. The order reads thus:
It is stated by the learned Advocate General that the matter would be decided as expeditiously as possible. In view of this, the writ petition is not pressed by the learned Counsel for the petitioner. As such, the writ petition is rendered infructuous and is dismissed.
4. The petitioner avers that since nothing material happened, he wrote a letter dated 25th Nov. 1980 (Annexure-F) to the Chief Justice describing his plight and stating: 'kindly help me and rescue me from the clutches of this bureaucracy.' He also approached the Deputy Commissioner by a letter dated 29th Dec. 1980 praying that the matter be expedited. However, instead of deciding the matter himself, respondent No. 1, the present Deputy CommiS' sloner, sent the matter to the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil) Theog, (respondent No. 2) for decision. It is in these circumstances that the petitioner has filed the present application.
5. The present Deputy Commissioner, Shri Mohinder Lai (respondent No. 1), has filed his affidavit in reply to the petition. He assumed charge as Deputy Commissioner, Simla, on May 22, 1980. He states that the file relating to the petitioner's case was put up before him for the first time on 26th Aug. 1980. He has also described in detail the action taken by his predecessor. But in this application I am not concerned with that since he has not been made a party, However, it may be noticed that the then Deputy Commissioner had, inter alia, started calling the reports from the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil) Theog, and also from the Forest Department regarding the price of the trees standing on the land. It is stated that the value of the trees was grossly undervalued according to the report received in Apr. 1980. It is also stated that since the petitioner was not entitled to any allotment of nautor land, so the action was being taken to review the order of grant of land. It is submitted that on account of the complaints of the villagers and the reports of the Tehsildar, respondent No. 1 sent the case to the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil) Theog, (respondent No. 2) for considering the matter on merits and further directing him to comply faithfully the orders passed by this Court. At this stage the following relevant portion of the affidavit may be read with advantage :
Since new facts had come on record as stated in reply to para 3 above, the case warranted further probe in the matter as described in the order, the respondent No. 1 was left with no option but to remand the case to S. D. O. (C) Theog, respondent No. 2, in bona fide discharge of his duties and also in the interest of justice, without meaning any disrespect to the directions of the Hon'ble High Court which is quite manifest from the order passed by respondent No. 1.
This respondent goes on to justify the action taken by him on the ground that there were powers with the officer to review or revise stomata the order of grant of land already passed. He has also tendered unconditional apology in case this Court is of the view that he has done something which in the circumstances of the case should not have been done.
6. As already stated, I am not concerned with the conduct of the previous Deputy Commissioner since he has not been made a party by the petitioner but I cannot help recording my strong disapproval of his conduct. A simple order directing the Deputy Commissioner to consider only the question of the petitioner's being 'resident' of the estate concerned remained unresolved practically for a year and a half. It is true that the fire in the office of the Deputy Commissioner also contributed to the delay since the petitioner's file was destroyed, still there was no reason for the matter being sent to the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil) Theog. Extraneous matters brought in the affidavit of respondent No. l about the complaints of the villagers, undervaluation of the trees, petitioner's sons having been allotted lands etc., have no relevance for deciding whether the orders of this Court were complied with or not. If at all, these facts show the working of the mind of respondent No. 1, who instead of deciding the question referred to him, seemed to be out to ensure that the petitioner does not get the nautor land at all. I must make it clear that I am not here concerned whether under the rules certain officers could suo motu revise or review the orders passed by them. Assuming for the sake of argument that it could be done, it was no excuse for respondent No, 1 for not complying with the orders of this Court. The orders were simple indeed. The Deputy Commissioner was directed to decide the question of the petitioner being a 'resident' in the light of the judgment. Instead of deciding this question respondent No. 1 iust transferred the whole case to the Sub-Divisioaal Officer (Civil) Theog. The latter was a respondent in the writ petitions and if the Court so desired it could have directed the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil) Theog, to decide the question. But the Court did not do so. It is no excuse for respondent No. 1 that the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil) Theog, has been directed by him to decide the question according to the directions even by this Court. Once the Court had directed the Deputy Commissioner to do a particular thing, it was the bounden duty of the Deputy Commissioner to do it and not. to pass on the matter for decision to his subordinates.
7. The reason given by respondent No. 1 for not deciding the question referred to him by the Court cannot be accepted. If certain new facts had come to his notice requiring further probe in the matter then proper proceedings under the law could have been taken against the petitioner. But that did not mean that he could refuse to decide the question which was specifically referred to him by this Court and in respect of which an assurance was given to the Court in the subsequent writ petition.
8. It was 9 years ago when the petitioner was granted nautor land and was required to deposit the then value of the trees as fixed by the officials concerned, by the Sub-Divisional Officer (Civil) Theog. The order of this responsible officer was objected to by a clerk (for reasons best known to him) and despite the intervention of the Court and a specific direction as well as subsequent assurance given to the Court, the petitioner has been denied the relief. It is high time that the Executive Officials realise that it is their bounden duty to carry out the orders of the courts in letter and spirit. Let no one think that he is too big to carry out the orders of the court and he can conveniently pass on the directions given to him to some of his subordinates.
9. I must hold that respondent No. 1 is guilty of having committed civil contempt of the court. However, in view of the unconditional apology tendered by him he is discharged. He is, however, directed to pay costs of this petition. Counsel's fee Rs. 200/-.