w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n



Bar Council of India, New Delhi, Represented by Its Secretary v/s Lokanath Behera Ips, Director, Vigilance & Anti Corruption Bureau, Thiruvananthapuram & Others


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    Con. APP(C). No. 1 of 2020

    Decided On, 03 July 2020

    At, High Court of Kerala

    By, THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE MR. S. MANIKUMAR & THE HONOURABLE MRS. JUSTICE ANU SIVARAMAN

    For the Appellant: Rajit, Advocate. For the Respondents: -----



Judgment Text


S. Manikumar, C.J.

1. Instant contempt appeal is filed by the Bar Council of India aggrieved by the judgment in Con. Case(C) No.699 of 2019 in W.P.(C) No.34162 of 2018 dated 28.03.2019, by which a learned single Judge of this Court held that contempt has not been committed by the respondents on the ground that the statement filed by the respondents through the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance and Anticorruption Bureau could not be binding on them and since the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance and Anticorruption Bureau has not been made a party in the contempt petition.

2. Short facts leading to filing of the appeal are under:

Bar Council of India is a body corporate constituted under Section 4 having all the functions provided under Section 7 of the Advocates Act, 1961 (for short, 'Act, 1961). Kerala Bar Council is a body corporate constituted under Section 3, having all the functions provided under Section 6 of Act, 1961. On the date of filing of the writ petition, Kerala Bar Council was administered by a Special Committee constituted under Section 8A of Act, 1961, and the Advocate General of Kerala was the Chairman. Two other members were nominated by the Bar Council of India as its members. Kerala Welfare Fund Trust is a Trust constituted under Section 4 of the Kerala Welfare Funds Act, 1980 (for short, 'Act, 1980). The Director, Vigilance and Anticorruption Bureau is a specialized agency of the State of Kerala, responsible for the investigation and prevention of corruption in Kerala and the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Office of the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance and Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam was the officer in-charge of the investigation in VC.02/18/CR, VACB, Central Agency, Central Range, Ernakulam.

3. The appellant is the Bar Council of India, the 1st respondent in W.P.(C) No.34162 of 2018. Kerala Bar Council represented by its Secretary, was the 2nd respondent, Kerala Advocates Welfare Fund Trust, represented by its Secretary, was the 3rd respondent, the Director, Vigilance and Anticorruption Bureau, was the 4th respondent, and the 5th respondent was the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Office of the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance and Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam.

4. Above writ petition was filed by the 'Members elect' of the Bar Council of Kerala awaiting notification in the Official Gazette under Rule 33 of the Bar Council of Kerala Rules, 1979. Both the bodies are constituted solely for the purpose of welfare of advocates and intended for administration, well being and regulation of the advocates in the State of Kerala. The Advocate General is an Ex-officio member of the State Bar Council in the usual course, the Chairman of the Special Committee, which was constituted in a situation, wherein State Bar Council could not conduct the election before the expiry of the term of five years or the extended term, and the Ex-officio Chairman of the Trustee Committee, as per Section 4 of Act, 1980.

5. Appellant has further stated that the present Advocate General was the Ex-officio Chairman of the State Bar Council and was the Ex-officio Chairman of the Trustee Committee between 2006 and 2011. The Advocate General was the Ex-officio member of the State Bar Council from May, 2016, the Chairman of the Trustee Committee as per Section 4 of Act, 1980 and the Chairman of the Special Committee constituted under Section 8A of the Advocates Act from October, 2016. Appellant has further stated that between 2011 and 2016 October, the present Director General of Prosecution was the Member and Chairman of the State Bar Council and he was also a Member of the Trustee Committee, as per Section 4 of Act, 1980, in his capacity as President, Kerala Bar Federation. Appellant has contended that the Trust Committee is having the functions as provided under Sections 9 and 10 of Act, 1980. The Secretary of the Bar Council of Kerala, the Ex-officio Secretary of the Trustee Committee, was having all the powers and duties of Secretary, as provided under Section 11 of Act, 1980.

6. Appellant has further stated that the said Ex-officio Secretary of the Bar Council submitted an annual report for the period from 1.4.2015 to 31.3.2016 on 18.5.2016 wherein, it was stated that the accounts of the Kerala Advocates Welfare Fund Trust upto the financial year 2013-14 were audited and accounts for the year 2014-15 and 2015-16 were entrusted to the Chartered Accountant for audit and that a report was submitted before the Bar Council of Kerala on 22.5.2016. Subsequently, after the expiry of the period of Bar Council of Kerala in October 2016, a Special Committee was constituted. One among the Member of Special Committee, who is in charge of Treasurer, demanded the audited annual accounts and other details of the Kerala Advocates Welfare Fund Trust during October 2016. The Secretary submitted a letter to the Special Committee stating that the accounts upto 2013 were not audited, but only submitted for auditing before the Auditor on 02.07.2015, and the remaining accounts were submitted for auditing on 08.11.2016, i.e. after the demand made by the Special Committee, for production of audited accounts. According to the appellant, it is evident from the letter issued by the Secretary dated 17.11.2016 that the annual report before the Bar Council meeting dated 22.05.2016 was utter falsity. Later, the Auditor vide his letter dated 25.11.2016 also informed the Secretary that he has not received any accounts for auditing on or before 02.07.2015. It means that no accounts were submitted by the Secretary or Accountant before the Auditor for auditing till 08.11.2016. According to the appellant, the fact remains that the entire accounts regarding the welfare fund is manipulated. The entire system is tainted by the above actions. Several Crores of rupees were swindled by the responsible persons of the Bar Council. The fact remains that the entire lawyer fraternity was embittered by the lackadaisical action of the Bar Council.

7. During July 2017, the Secretary of Tirur Bar Association filed a complaint before the Secretary, Kerala Advocates Welfare Fund Trust in connection with the non remittance of Demand Draft for Rs.3.5 lakhs. Subsequently, another letter was issued by Tirur Bar Association to the Secretary during August, 2017 insisting for further action. Though, similar complaints were raised by different bar associations in the State, no action was initiated on any of the said complaints. Even though the Special Committee recommended for appropriate action, the only action initiated was on a complaint dated 04.10.2017 lodged before the Kerala Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau Office by the very same Secretary (who is also responsible for the above action) in which, an FIR numbered as VC.02/18/CRE dated 11.05.2018, was registered and nobody was arrested in the matter. In connection to the manipulation pointed out by the Tirur Bar Association and other Bar Associations, no action was initiated. According to the appellant, it is known that the quantum of manipulated amount was several Crores. Only the Accountant was arrayed as an accused. He was not questioned and the procedure to arrest was not followed for completing the investigation. The illegalities and information regarding the commission of offence was disclosed on 17.11.2016. Subsequently, a complaint was lodged before the Kerala Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau by the very same Secretary (who is also responsible for the above actions) on 04.10.2017 (after one year).

8. According to the appellant, it is seen from the records that excess stamps were sold by the Welfare Committee. It is reported that the Welfare Committee was holding excess quantity of stamps. The Secretary of the 2nd respondent submitted a report on 12.10.2017 putting the entire blame on the Accountant. The Secretary, in his capacity as the Secretary of the Welfare Trust Committee, issued memo of charges against the Accountant, in which it is seen that several documents were fabricated. Even though the Secretary was having sufficient knowledge regarding the manipulations and forging of documents, which is evident from memo of charges issued by the Secretary dated 10.11.2017, the same was not mentioned in the complaint submitted by the Secretary. The Law Secretary issued a letter on 13.12.2017 seeking publication of a white paper. The Calicut Bar Association has also submitted such a letter on 21.10.2017. On 22.01.2018 the above facts were intimated to the Trustee Committee. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Office of the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam registered an FIR numbered as VC.02/18/CRE on 11.05.2018 incorporating offences under Sections 13(2) and 13(1)(c) and (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 2018 and nobody was arrested in the matter. The fact remains that even after 2 years from identifying the misdeed, no concrete steps were initiated by the appropriate authorities or Vigilance department.

9. It is pertinent to note that the highest officials of the State were in helm of the affairs of Trust Committee during the controversial period, who are duty bound to oversee their subordinate officers. The most pertinent fact is that when there are instances of manipulation and forging of several documents, IPC offences were not registered. The petitioners filed a complaint before the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Kerala with a copy to the Secretary Home Department and Law Secretary, seeking CBI Investigation in the matter. Subsequently, on 12.10.2018, the Bar Council of India issued an order constituting a four men committee headed by Justice Deepak K.Trivedi, a former Judge, High Court of Gujarat; Justice B.C Kandpal, a former Judge, High Court of Utharakhand, and two members of Bar Council of India, to conduct and enquiry and to submit report within a period of three weeks. The petitioners submitted a petition before the Hon'ble Chief Minister seeking CB1 investigation, since the investigation carried out by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Office of the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam, was not in the right track. Immediately, on getting information that an enquiry was conducted by a committee constituted by the Bar Council of India, the officers under the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Office of the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam came to the premises of the Kerala Bar Council and initiated steps to take away all the original records which are necessarily required for the enquiry by the committee constituted by the Bar Council of India.

10. The petitioners objected for taking out the original records before the conclusion of the enquiry. But. the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Office of the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam informed that they will take the entire original documents on 17.10.2018. The Bar Council of India issued a letter on 16.10.2018 directing the Kerala Bar Council not to give the original records to anybody till the completion of the enquiry. Hasty steps were initiated by the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Office of the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam, to take away the original records.

11. In the above circumstances, writ petition was filed for the following relief;

“To issue a writ of mandamus directing respondents 4 and 5, not to take any documents or records from the office of respondents 2 and 3 until completion of the enquiry by the enquiry committee, constituted as per Exhibit-P11 order”.

12. Writ petitioners also sought for the following interim relief,-

“For the reasons stated in the accompanying affidavit, this Court may be pleased to direct respondents 4 and 5 not to take any documents or records from the office of the 2nd and 3rd respondents, till the disposal of this Writ Petition”.

13. After giving notice to the appellant, Bar Council of India, the matter came up for consideration of this Court. It was submitted on behalf of the Bar Council of India that the documents pertaining to the welfare fund maintained by the Bar Council of Kerala were highly necessary for a proper conduct of the enquiry. The 3rd respondent has filed a statement on behalf of all the respondents herein, wherein he has stated that a vigilance enquiry was being conducted in respect of the misappropriation of funds and falsification of accounts of the trustee committee, from 2007-08 onwards. It was also stated by the 3rd respondent that during the course of investigation, the documents were seized on 16.10.2018 from the office of the Kerala Bar Council, relating to the Kerala Advocate welfare fund trustee committee, and necessary seizure mahazar was prepared. It was further submitted that on 20.10.2018, the documents submitted as per the seizure mahazar were submitted to the jurisdictional Court. The documents seized by the vigilance pertain to the period upto 2013-14. The accounts in other documents relating to the period after 2014 were in the custody of the auditors of the Kerala Advocates Welfare Committee. These documents are also necessary to be seized in the course of investigation.

14. On 17.10.2018, the matter came up for consideration of the learned single Judge and the learned Senior Government Pleader informed the Court that the vigilance department will not seize any further document till 22.10.2018. Recording the said submission, the case was listed for hearing on 22.10.2018. The writ court, based on the undertaking given by the learned Senior Government Pleader (Annexure-B), proceeded to accept the statement given by the Investigating Officer that the documents seized from the Bar Council of Kerala, have already been produced before the Vigilance Court and directed the petitioners to approach the Vigilance Court for certified copies, and in respect of the documents which were with the Auditor, the Court directed to handover a copy of the documents seized by the Investigating Officer to the Auditor. Relevant portion of the said order is extracted hereunder:

“When this matter has been taken up for hearing, the learned senior Government Pleader has submitted that the vigilance department will not seize any further document till 25.10.2018. The above submission of the learned Senior Government Pleader stands recorded.”

15. Thereafter, writ court by judgment dated 25.10.2018 (Annexure- C), closed W.P.(C) No.34162 of 2018, the relevant portion of which is extracted hereunder:

“3. When this matter has been taken up for hearing, the learned counsel for the petitioners has submitted that the petitioners will be satisfied if a direction is issued to the Investigating Officer to handover the photocopy of the document, if any, seized from the auditor, to the auditor, to enable the enquiry committee to collect the same from the auditor concerned. As regards the other documents, the learned counsel has submitted that the learned counsel will be able to get the certified copy from the court concerned as the said documents had been already produced before the court.

4. In view of the above submission, it is directed that if the Investigating Officer seizes any document from the auditor, a copy of the said document shall be given to the auditor forthwith. With the above direction, this writ petition stands closed.”

16. It is the case of the appellant that misappropriation of the welfare fund to the tune of Rs.7 Crores was done by the persons in charge and responsible of the trustee committee. The enquiry committee appointed by the Bar Council of India, which consisted of retired Judges and other eminent personalities, has started the enquiry and prima facie found large scale irregularities and misappropriation of the welfare fund, meant for the welfare of the advocates. The enquiry committee required the Bar Council of India to obtain certified copies of the documents seized and produced by the vigilance department before the Vigilance Court having jurisdiction and accordingly, an application was filed before the Vigilance Court seeking for the certified copy of the entire documents seized by the vigilance department from the Bar Council of Kerala and produced before the Vigilance Court. The Vigilance Court rejected the application stating that the documents have not been submitted by the vigilance unit till date. It is respectfully submitted that the respondents, in sheer disregard to the undertaking in W.P.(C) No.34162/2018, have not produced any documents before the Vigilance Court, Muvattupuzha. Relevant potion of the order rejecting the copy application (Annexure-D) is extracted hereunder:

“Submitted

Documents mentioned in the copy application have not been submitted by the Vigilance Unit till date. Hence, this application may be rejected.

For orders”

17. Left with no other remedy, the appellant filed Cont. Case (C) No.699 of 2019 before this Court, contending, inter alia, that the entire enquiry was stalled due to the deliberate withholding of the records by the respondents. Learned single Judge, however on unfounded technicalities, was pleased to dismiss the contempt petition, taking the view that statement was filed only on behalf of the 3rd respondent herein by one Surendran, Inspector of Police-II, Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam and, therefore, no contempt may lie against respondents 1 & 2 and since the statement is filed by one M.Surendran, contempt would lie only against the said M. Surendran, Inspector of Police-II, Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam. Relevant portion of the judgment dated 28.03.2019 in the contempt case is reproduced hereunder:

“5. The learned counsel for the petitioner has submitted that Annexure-A statement was filed by Sri.M.Surendran for and on behalf of the respondents herein. The said submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner also does not appear to be correct. It is stated in Annexure-A that the said document was filed on behalf of the 5th respondent in the writ petition. The 5th respondent in the writ petition is the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance and Anticorruption Burearu. Therefore, there can be no doubt that Annexure-A statement was not filed on behalf of respondent Nos. 1 and 2 herein. The person who filed the statement was admittedly not made as a respondent herein. The contempt of court proceedings can be initiated only against the person/persons, who wilfully commit any act falling within the ambit of the Contempt of Courts Act. In this case, the respondent Nos.1 and 2 did not file any statement at all. Sri.M.Surendran also did not file any statement for respondent Nos 1 and 2. The person who filed the statement was not made as a respondent. The 3rd respondent also did not file any statement. There is absolutely nothing before the Court to indicate that the respondents herein committed any act falling within the ambit of Contempt of Courts Act. In the said circumstances, this Contempt of Court case is without any merits and consequently, the same deserves to be dismissed. It is accordingly dismissed.”

18. Appellant has further stated that the order passed by the learned single Judge, cannot stand legal scrutiny and, in fact, has given the respondents a reason to not co-operate with the enquiry ordered by the Bar Council of India. The enquiry of the Bar Council of India has come to a stand still on account of the suppression of the material records.

19. Being aggrieved, the appellant has filed the instant contempt appeal on the following grounds:-

A. The order of the learned Single Judge in dismissing the contempt petition on the ground of non existing technicalities is highly improper, irregular and illegal.

B. The statement is filed on behalf of the respondents by the Inspector of Police-II, Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam. It is specifically mentioned in the statement that the statement is filed on behalf of the 3rd respondent. If the Inspector of Police-II, Vigilance & Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range, Ernakulam was not authorised to file such a statement on behalf of the 3rd respondent, then the Government pleader should not have filed such a statement at all in the first place and the Learned Single Judge ought not to have accepted the statement and disposed off the writ petition on the basis of such statement.

C. The respondents 1 & 2 are at the helm of affairs in the Vigilance department and this is a case where, as is evident by the statement filed by the respondents, that every attempt is made to question the enquiry conducted by the Bar Council of India. The protection comes from the highest quarters, as is evident in the statement filed by the Police, questioning the authority of the Bar Council of India to conduct enquiry in the embezzlement of Rs.7 Crores of Welfare fund, meant for the welfare of the advocates.

D. It is settled law that an undertaking given before this Hon'ble Court, which is acted upon by this Hon'ble Court, amounts to orders which can be lawfully enforced. The contempt jurisdiction was therefore clearly maintainable and also necessary in order to ensure the protection of the interest of the Advocates.

E. The enquiry committee has commenced with the enquiry and examined various records and also examined witnesses. The Committee faced absolutely no co-operation from the office bearers of the Bar Council of Kerala. Despite this handicap, the committee proceeded with the enquiry and was shocked to find large scale irregularities and defalcation in the Advocate Welfare fund. The Committee examined the various witnesses including Petitioner and observed that misappropriation is not the result of an isolated act rather defalcation of the fund has been happening as a matter of routine under the very nose of the people who, under the State Welfare Act, were entrusted the task of maintaining the funds for the welfare of the Advocates. The Committee also found that the accounts were not audited since the year. The Committee submitted an interim report recommending to place the Secretary of the Bar Council of Kerala to be relieved of all the official duty and responsibility till conclusion of enquiry. There is also a finding by the committee that the accounts were not audited for many years deliberately and this was within the knowledge of the trustee committee.

F. In respect of the investigation by the vigilance, the less said the better. The vigilance enquiry was started on 04.10.2017, and absolutely no action was taken until the enquiry was ordered by the Bar Council of India. When the enquiry committee was constituted and when the committee commenced proceedings and submitted its interim report on 29.10.2018, the vigilance department swung into action and arrested M. K Chandran only on 16.01.2019. From 2017 to 2019, no action was taken. It was only when the interim report was submitted by the enquiry committee wherein it was found that records were manipulated and large amounts were misappropriated, the State Bar Council refused to co-operate with the enquiry and instruction were given to the Secretary of the State Bar Council not to co-operate with the enquiry and not to hand over the registers and other documents to the enquiry committee.

G. The misappropriation of an amount of around Rs.7 Crores of funds meant for the welfare of the advocates is a very serious affairs. Many advocates were denied welfare fund benefits due to shortage of funds. The entire persons responsible for this misappropriation have to be brought to book, to ensure that these acts were never repeated.

20. Based on the above grounds, learned counsel for the appellant made submissions.

21. Heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the material available on record.

22. As directed by the writ court in order dated 17.10.2018 in W.P. (C) No.34162 of 2018, Inspector of Police, Vigilance and Anticorruption Bureau, Central Range-II, Ernakulam has filed a statement dated 22.10.2018, which is extracted hereunder:

“(a) On the basis of resolution dated 02.09.2017 of the meeting of the Advocate Welfare Fund Trustee Committee resolving to have an enquiry by the Vigilance and Anticorruption Bureau (VACB) in view of the irregularities namely shortage of money, misappropriation of funds, falsification of accounts of the State the Trustee Committee from the FYs 2007-08 onwards, Government as per letter No. Vig.D1/134/2017-VIG. Dated 04.10.2017 directed the VACB to conduct a Vigilance Enquiry on the allegation of irregularities and defalcation in printing and distribution of Welfare fund Stamps entrusted to Bar Council of Kerala. On the basis of the said direction the VACB through its Deputy Superintendent of Police-II, VACB Central Range, Ernakulam, conducted a vigilance enquiry as per VE.02/2017 CRE.

(b) The allegations enquired into in the above Vigilance Enquiry are in brief that when the audit of accounts of Kerala Advocate Welfare Fund Trustee Committee for the years 2007-2008 onwards were conducted following anomalies were discovered for the years 2007- 2008 and 2009-2010.

1) Books of account were not properly maintained.

2) No stock register is maintained for sale of welfare fund stamps

3) Proper records for sale of welfare fund stamps are not seen maintained.

4) Interest received from Fixed Deposits as seen from the account is less than the actual interest to be received from the bank.

5) Excess payment of salary to the tune of Rs.35,303/- is entered in the welfare fund account.

6) It has been recorded in the accounts after two years of the said excess drawal that the amount was recovered and deposited in Bank, whereas, no actual deposit is scene in bank pass book.

7) Bank reconciliation statement is not properly prepared and the accounts do not tally with the Bank account.

8) Many bank remittance slips (counter-foils) are not produced for verification.

9) There is manipulation of the tune of Rs.35,47,833/- with respect of sale of Welfare fund stamp till 30.06.2010.

10) The accountant has made corrections to the tune of Rs.70 lakhs regarding sale proceeds of Welfare Fund stamp in the Financial Year 2009-2010.

11) There is defalcation of accounts in the FY 2010-11 & 2011-12 in the stamp sale.

12) Salary register is not maintained.

13) Fictitious entry for disbursement of amount of Rs.6 lakhs, have been created with respect to payment of death-cum-retirement benefits, in the year 2011-12.

14) Fictitious receipts towards sale of stamps have been created; some of sale happened during public which represent that stamp holidays/Sundays.

15) There is a shortage of Rs.9,83,611/- in Bank Account upto 30.06.2012.

16) Since the audit is going on and books of account and other records are not available, the staff has to reconstruct accounts and during preliminary enquiry, no impediment should be caused to reconstruction of accounts and audit of the years 2012-2013 to 2016-2017 without which the extent of defalcation may not come to light.

(c) A detailed enquiry was conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police-II, VACB Central Range, Ernakulam on the above allegations and recommended for a detailed vigilance investigation to unearth the irregularities and misappropriation committed by the suspected officer by registering a vigilance case for offence under Section 13(2) r/w. 13(1)(c)(d) of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988.

(d) On the basis of the abovesaid Vigilance Enquiry Report, the Director, VACB by his communication - letter No.E9 (VCO2/2018/CRE) 32800/2017 dated 24.04.2018, directed registration of vigilance case in the above matter. On the basis of the direction issued by the Director of VACB, an FIR has been registered as VC.02/18/CRE for the offence punishable under Sections 13(2) r/w. 13(1)(c)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 2018 on 11.05.2018. As per Communication No.VE02/17/CRE dated 03.05.2018 of the Superintendent of Police, VACB, Central Range, the undersigned was appointed as the Investigating Officer in the above case.

(e) It is respectfully submitted that the undersigned took over charge of the investigation on 11.05.2018. As a part of investigation, statement of witnesses have been recorded and the accounts for the last 10 years were got audited by the Local Fund Audit Department of the Government. Notice under Section 41A of Cr.P.C. was issued to the accused and statement has been recorded.

(f) During the course of investigation, documents have been seized on 16.10.2018 from the office of the Kerala Bar Council relating to the Kerala Advocate Welfare Fund Trustee Committee and prepared necessary seizure mahazar. The documents seized as per mahazar have been submitted to the Hon'ble Court having jurisdiction in the matter on 20.10.2018. The documents seized by the VACB pertains to the period upto 2013-2014. The accounts and other documents relating to the period after 2014 is now in the custody of the Auditors of the Kerala Advocate Welfare Fund Trustee Committee. These documents are also necessary to be seized in the course of investigation.

(g) It submitted that on the basis of the documents seized, the accused will have to be arrested and interrogation is to be conducted to ascertain the truth of the allegations. Steps will be taken to arrest the accused and to conduct interrogation.

(h) The investigation is conducted in a most effective manner without any delay. Since there are serious allegations of misappropriation of money, falsification of documents, cheating, criminal breach of trust it may be necessary to conduct a thorough investigation by recording the statement of witnesses and seizing of all the relevant documents relating to the issue.

(i) The contention now raised by the petitioner appears to be against the provisions of Cr.P.C. and interference in the criminal investigation. Since the investigation has been commenced by registering FIR under Section 154 of the Cr.P.C. the investigation cannot be interfered with by any authority except under the orders of the Court. There is no allegation in the writ petition that the investigation is not fair or the investigation is not in the right direction. None of the documents produced by the petitioners give any authority for issuing a direction to the investigating agency refraining them from seizing the relevant documents relating to a criminal offence. The investigating agency is well within its authority to seize any documents which in the opinion of the investigating agency is a subject matter of criminal offence.

(j) The Committee constituted as per Exhibit P11 issued by the 1st respondent has no statutory backing, None of the provisions in the Advocate's Act, 1061 or the Bar Council of India Rules give the 1st respondent an authority to constitute a committee in the nature of one constituted as per Exhibit P11 issued by the 1st respondent. In other words, it is submitted that the 4 member Committee constituted by the 1st respondent as per Exhibit P11 is not on the basis of any statutory provisions and therefore such committee has no power to enquire into an allegation of commission of a criminal offence in the nature of one involved in the instant case. The said Committee cannot, in any manner, interfere with criminal investigation also.

(k) None of the grounds raised by the petitioners are sufficient to grant the relief sought for in the writ petition. Code of Criminal Procedure gives amble power to the police officer to seize the property and documents during the course of investigation. The Investigating Officer has been discharging his duty perfectly within the authority granted under the provisions of Cr.P.C. and the seizure of the documents cannot be interfered with only for the reason that an Enquiry Committee has been constituted by the 1st respondent enquiring into the allegations of misappropriation of money etc. of the Kerala Advocate Welfare Fund Trustee Committee. The investigation is going on smoothly and effectively. Any interference in the investigation will only help the culprits. The petitioners are not entitled for any reliefs in this writ petition.”

23. On the aspect as to whether a contempt appeal is maintainable in the absence of any action initiated for inflicting punishment or any punishment imposed by the Court, we deem it fit to consider a few decisions, which are extracted hereunder.

(I) In D.N. Taneja v. Bhajan Lal reported in (1988) 3 SCC 26, the Hon'ble Supreme Court at para 8, 10, 11 & 12 held thus:

"8. The right of appeal will be available under Sub-section (1) of Section 19 only against any decision or order of a High Court passed in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. In this connection, it is pertinent to refer to the provision of Article 215 of the Constitution which provides that every High Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself. Article 215 confers on the High Court the power to punish for contempt of itself. In other words, the High Court derives its jurisdiction to punish for contempt from Article 215 of the Constitution. As has been noticed earlier, an appeal will lie under Section 19(1) of the Act only when the High Court makes an order or decision in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. It is submitted on behalf of the respondent and, in our opinion rightly, that the High Court exercises its jurisdiction or power as conferred on it by Article 215 of the Constitution when it imposes a punishment for contempt. When the High Court does not impose any punishment on the alleged contemnor, the High Court does not exercise its jurisdiction or power to punish for contempt. The jurisdiction of the High Court is to punish. When no punishment is imposed by the High Court, it is difficult to say that the High Court has exercised its jurisdiction or power as conferred on it by Article 215 of the Constitution.

10. There can be no doubt that whenever a court, tribunal or authority is vested with a jurisdiction to decide a matter, such jurisdiction can be exercised in deciding the matter in favour or against a person. For example, a civil court is conferred with the jurisdiction to decide a suit; the civil court will have undoubtedly the jurisdiction to decree the suit or dismiss the same. But when a court is conferred with the power or jurisdiction to act in a particular manner, the exercise of jurisdiction or the power will involve the acting in that particular manner and in no other. Article 215 confers jurisdiction or power on the High Court to punish for contempt. The High Court can exercise its jurisdiction only by punishing for contempt. It is true that in considering a question whether the alleged contemnor is guilty of contempt or not, the court hears the parties and considers the materials produced before it and, if necessary, examines witnesses and, thereafter, passes an order either acquitting or punishing him for contempt. When the High Court acquits the contemnor, the High Court does not exercise its jurisdiction for contempt, for such exercise will mean that the High Court should act in a particular manner, that is to say, by imposing punishment for contempt. So long as no punishment is imposed by the High Court, the High Court cannot be said to be exercising its jurisdiction or power to punish for contempt under Article 215 of the Constitution.

11. It does not, however, mean that when the High Court erroneously acquits a contemnor guilty of criminal contempt, the petitioner who is interested in maintaining the dignity of the court will not be without any remedy. Even though no appeal is maintainable under Section 19(1) of the Act, the petitioner in such a case can move this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution. Therefore, the contention, as advanced on behalf of the appellant, that there would be no remedy against the erroneous or perverse decision of the High Court in not exercising its jurisdiction to punish for contempt, is not correct. But, in such a case there would be no right of appeal under Section 19(1), as there is no exercise of jurisdiction or power by the High Court to punish for contempt. The view which we take finds support from a decision of this Court in Paradakanta Mishra v. Mr. Justice Gatikrushna Mishra (1975 CriL.J 1).

12. Right of appeal is a creature of the statute and the question whether there is a right of appeal or not will have to be considered on an interpretation of the provision of the statute and not on the ground of propriety or any other consideration. In this connection, it may be noticed that there was no right of appeal under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1952. It is for the first time that under Section 19(1) of the Act, a right of appeal has been provided for. A contempt is a matter between the court and the alleged contemnor. Any person who moves the machinery of the court for contempt only brings to the notice of the court certain facts constituting contempt of court. After furnishing such information he may still assist the court, but it must always be borne in mind that in a contempt proceeding there are only two parties, namely, the court and the contemnor. It may be one of the reasons which weighed with the Legislature in not conferring any right of appeal on the petitioner for contempt. The aggrieved party under Section 19(1) can only be the contemnor who has been punished for contempt of court."

(II) In State of Maharashtra v. Mahboob S. Allibhoy and Ors. reported in (1996) 4 SCC 411, the Hon'ble Apex Court at para 4, 5 & 6 held as follows:

"3. The preliminary question which has to be examined as to whether in the facts and circumstances of the case an appeal is maintainable against an order droping the proceeding for contempt. It is well settled that an appeal is a creature of a statue. Unless a statute provides for an appeal and specifies the order against which an appeal can be filed, no appeal can be filed or entertained as a matter of right or course. S.19 of the Act says:

"Appeals - (1) An appeal shall lie as of right from any order or decision 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 :

(b) where the order or decision is that of a Bench, to the Supreme Court :

Provided that where the order or decision is that of the Court of the Judicial Commissioner in any Union Territory, such appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court.

(2) Pending any appeal, the appellate Court may order that –

(a) the execution of the punishment or order appealed against be suspended;

(b) if the appellant is in confinement, he be released on bail; and

(c) the appeal be heard notwithstanding that the appellant has not purged his contempt.

(3) Where any person aggrieved by any order against which an appeal may be filed satisfies the High Court that he intends to prefer an appeal the High Court may also exercise all or any of the powers conferred by sub-s.(2).

(4) An appeal under sub-s.(1) shall be filed –

(a) in the case of an appeal to a Bench of the High Court, within thirty days;

(b) in the case of an appeal to the Supreme Court; within sixty days, from the date of the order appealed against".

On a plain reading S.19 provides that an appeal shall lie as of right from any order or decision of the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. In other words, if the High Court passes an order in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish any person for contempt of court, then only an appeal shall be maintainable under sub-s.(1) of S.19 of the Act. As sub-s.(1) of S.19 provides that an appeal shall lie as of right for any order, an impression is created that an appeal has been provided under the said sub-section against any order passed by the High Court while exercising the jurisdiction contempt proceedings. The words 'any order' has to be read with the expression 'decision' used in said subsection which the High Court passes in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. 'Any order' is not independent of the expression 'decision. They have been put in an alternative form saying 'order' or 'decision. In either case, it must be in the nature of punishment for contempt. If the expression 'any order' is read independently of the 'decision' then an appeal shall lie under sub-s.(1) of S.19 even against any interlocutory order passed in a proceeding for contempt by the High Court which shall lead to a ridiculous result.

4. On a plain reading Section 19 provides that an appeal shall lie as of right from any order or decision of the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. In other words, if the High Court passes an order in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish any person for contempt of court, then only an appeal shall be maintainable under Sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act. As Sub-section (1) of Section 19 provides that an appeal shall lie as of right form any order, an impression is created that an appeal has been provided under the said sub-section against any order passed by the High Court while exercising the jurisdiction of contempt proceedings. The words 'any order' has to be read with the expression 'decision' used in said sub-section which the High Court passes in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. 'Any order' is not independent of the expression 'decision. They have been put in an alternative from saying 'order' or 'decision. In either case, it must be in the nature of punishment for contempt. If the expression 'any order' is read independently of the 'decision' then an appeal shall lie under Sub-section (1) of Section 19 even against any interlocutory order passed in a proceeding for contempt by the High Court which shall lead to a ridiculous result.

5. It is well known that contempt proceeding is not a dispute between two parties, the proceeding is primarily between the court and the person who is alleged to have committed the contempt of court. The person who informs the court or brings to the notice of the court that anyone has committed the contempt of such court is not in the position of a prosecutor, he is simply assisting the court so that the dignity and the majesty of the court is maintained and upheld. It is for the court, which initiates the proceeding to decide whether the person against whom such proceeding has been initiated should be punished or discharged taking into consideration the facts and circumstances of the particular case. This Court in the case of Baradakanta Mishra v. Mr. Justice Gatikrushna Misra, C.J. of the Orissa H.C., (1975 CriLJ 1) said:

"... 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 such a decision cannot be regarded as a decision in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. Such a decision would not, therefore, fall within the opening words of Section 19, Sub-section (1) and no appeal would lie against it as of right under that provision."

Again in the case of D.N.Taneja v. Bhajan Lal [1988] 3 SCC 26, it was said:

"The right of appeal will be available under Sub-section (1) of Section 19 only against any decision or order of a High Court passed in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. In this connection, it is pertinent to refer to the provision of Article 215 of the Constitution which provides that every High Court shall be a court of record and shall have all the powers of such a court including the power to punish for contempt of itself. Article 215 confers on the High Court the power to punish for contempt of itself. In other words, the High Court derives its jurisdiction to punish for contempt from Article 215 of the Constitution. As has been noticed earlier, an appeal will lie under Section 19(1) of the Act only when the High Court makes an order or decision in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. It is submitted on behalf of the respondent and, in our opinion rightly, that the High Court exercises its jurisdiction or power as conferred on it by Article 215 of the Constitution when it imposes a punishment for contempt. When the High Court does not impose any punishment on the alleged contemnor, the High Court does not exercise its jurisdiction or power to punish for contempt. The jurisdiction of the High Court is to punish. When no punishment is imposed by the High Court, it is difficult to say that the High Court has exercised its jurisdiction or power as conferred on it by Article 215 of the Constitution.

No appeal is maintainable against an order dropping proceeding for contempt or refusing to initiate a proceeding for contempt is apparent not only from Sub-section (1) of Section 19 but also from Sub-section (2) of Section 19 which provides that pending any appeal the appellate Court may order that-

(a) the execution of the punishment or the order appealed against be suspended;

(b) if the appellant is in confinement, he be released on bail; and

(c) the appeal be heard notwithstanding that the appellant has not purged his contempt.

Sub-section (2) of Section 19 indicates that the reliefs provided under Clauses (a) to (c) can be claimed at the instance of the person who has been proceeded against for contempt of court.

6. But even if no appeal is maintainable on behalf of the person at whose instance a proceeding for contempt had been initiated and later dropped or whose petition for initiating contempt proceedings has been dismissed, is not without any remedy. In appropriate cases he can invoke the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 136 of the Constitution and this Court on being satisfied that it was a fit case where proceeding for contempt should have been initiated, can set aside the order passed by the High Court. In suitable cases, this Court has to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution in the larger interest of the administration of justice."

(III) In Midnapore Peoples' Co-op. Bank Ltd. and Ors. v. Chunilal Nanda and Ors. reported in (2006) 5 SCC 399, the Hon'ble Apex Court framed the following questions for consideration:

“9. On the aforesaid facts and the contentions urged, the following questions arise for consideration:

(i) Where the High Court, in a contempt proceeding, renders a decision on the merits of a dispute between the parties, either by an interlocutory order or final judgment, whether it is appealable under S.19 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971? If not, what is the remedy of the person aggrieved?

(ii) Where such a decision on merits is rendered by an interlocutory order of a learned Single Judge, whether an intra court appeal is available under Clause.15 of the Letters Patent?

(iii) In a contempt proceeding initiated by a delinquent employee (against the enquiry officer as also the Chairman and Secretary in charge of the employer Bank), complaining of disobedience of an order directing completion of the enquiry in a time bound schedule, whether the court can direct (a) that the employer shall reinstate the employee forthwith; (b) that the employee shall not be prevented from discharging his duties in any manner; (c) that the employee shall be paid all arrears of salary; (d) that the enquiry officer shall cease to be the enquiry officer and the employer shall appoint a fresh enquiry officer; and (e) that the suspension shall be deemed to have been revoked?

After considering various decisions, the Hon'ble Apex Court at paragraphs 10 and 11 held thus:

"10. Section 19 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 ['CC Act' for short] provides for appeals. Relevant portion of Sub-section (1) thereof is extracted below:

(1) An appeal shall lie as of right from any order or decision 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:

(b) where the order or decision is that of a Bench, to the Supreme Court:

The scope of Section 19 has been considered by this Court in Baradakanta Mishra v. Justice Gatikrushna Misra (1975 CriLJ 1), Purushotam Dass Goel v. Justice B.S. Dhillon (1978 Cri.LJ 772), Union of India v. Mario Cabral e Sa (AIR1982SC691), D.N. Taneja v. Bhajan Lal [(1988) 3 SCR 888], State of Maharashtra v. Mahboob S. Allibhoy (1996 CriLJ 2879) and J.S. Parihar v. Ganpat Duggar (AIR 1997 SC 113). These cases dealt with orders refusing to initiate contempt proceedings or initiating contempt proceedings or acquitting/ exonerating the contemnor or dropping the proceedings for contempt. In all these cases, it was held that an appeal was not maintainable under Section 19 of CC Act as the said Section only provided for an appeal in respect of orders punishing for contempt.

10.1. In Baradakanta Mishra (supra), a three Judge Bench of this Court held that an order declining to initiate a proceeding for contempt amounts to refusal to assume or exercise jurisdiction to punish for contempt and therefore, such a decision cannot be regarded as a decision in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. The question as to whether an appeal would be maintainable under Section 19 where the court initiates a proceeding for contempt but after due consideration and hearing finds the alleged contemnor not guilty of contempt, or having found him guilty declines to punish him, was left open.

10.2. In Purushotam Dass Goel (supra), certain aspects of Section 19 were left open. This relevant portion is extracted below:

"The (contempt) proceeding is initiated under Section 17 by issuance of a notice. Thereafter, there may be many interlocutory orders passed in the said proceeding by the High Court. It could not be the intention of the legislature to provide for an appeal to this Court as a matter of right from each and every such order made by the High Court. The order or the decision must be such that it decides some bone of contention raised before the High Court affecting the right of the party aggrieved. Mere initiation of a proceeding for contempt by the issuance of the notice on the prima facie view that the case is a fit one for drawing up the proceeding, does not decide any question.... It is neither possible, nor advisable, to make an exhaustive list of the type of orders which may be appealable to this Court under Section 19. A final order, surely, will be appealable.

If the alleged contemnor in response to the notice appears before the High Court and asks it to drop the proceeding on the ground of its being barred under Section 20 of the Act but the High Court holds that the proceeding is not barred, it may well be that an appeal would lie to this Court under Section 19 from such an order although the proceeding has remained pending in the High Court. We are not called upon to express our final opinion in regard to such an order, but we merely mention this type of order by way of an example to show that even orders made at some intermediate stage in the proceeding may be appealable under Section 19."

10.3. While Baradakanda Mishra and Purushotam Das left open the question whether an appeal under Section 19 would be maintainable in certain areas, in D.N. Taneja (supra), a three- Judge Bench of this Court, categorically held that appeals under Section 19 would lie only against the orders punishing the contemnor for contempt and not any other order passed in contempt proceedings. We extract below the relevant portions from the said decision:

"The right of appeal will be available under Sub-section (1) of Section 19 only against any decision or order of a High Court passed in the exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt.... When the High Court does not impose any punishment on the alleged contemnor, the High Court does not exercise its jurisdiction or power to punish for contempt. The jurisdiction of the High Court is to punish. When no punishment is imposed by the High Court, it is difficult to say that the High Court has exercised its jurisdiction or power as conferred on it by Article 215 of the Constitution.

It is true that in considering a question whether the alleged contemnor is guilty of contempt or not, the court hears the parties and considers the materials produced before it and, if necessary, examines witnesses and, thereafter, passes an order either acquitting or punishing him for contempt. When the High Court acquits the contemnor, the High Court does not exercise its jurisdiction for contempt, for such exercise will mean that the High Court should act in a particular manner, that is to say, by imposing punishment for contempt. So long as no punishment is imposed by the High Court, the High Court cannot be said to be exercising its jurisdiction or power to punish for contempt under Article 215 of the Constitution. The aggrieved party under Section 19(1) can only be the contemnor who has been punished for contempt of court."

(Emphasis supplied)

10.4. In Mahboob S. Allibhoy (supra), this Court reiterated the above position thus:

"On a plain reading Section 19 provides that an appeal shall lie as of right from any order or decision of the High Court in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. In other words, if the High Court passes an order in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish any person for contempt of court, then only an appeal shall be maintainable under Sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Act. As Sub-section (1) of Section 19 provides that an appeal shall lie as of right from any order, an impression is created that an appeal has been provided under the said sub-section against any order passed by the High Court while exercising the jurisdiction of contempt proceedings. The words 'any order' has to be read with the expression 'decision' used in said sub-section which the High Court passes in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. 'Any order' is not independent of the expression 'decision'. They have been put in an alternative form saying 'order' or 'decision'. In either case, it must be in the nature of punishment for contempt. If the expression 'any order' is read independently of the "decision" then an appeal shall lie under Sub-section (I) of Section 19 even against any interlocutory order passed in a proceeding for contempt by the High Court which shall lead to a ridiculous result."

10.5. J.S. Parihar v. Ganpat Duggar (supra) is nearest to this case, on facts. A contempt petition was filed alleging that the seniority list drawn pursuant to the order of the High Court was not in conformity with the said order. The High Court found it to be so, but held that the disobedience was not willful and, therefore, did not punish for contempt. But the High Court gave a direction to redraw the seniority list. The State Government challenged the said direction in an intra court appeal. The Division Bench held that the appeal was not maintainable under Section 19 of the CC Act, but was maintainable as an intra-court appeal as the direction issued by the single Judge would be a "judgment" within the meaning of that expression in Section 18 of Rajasthan High Court Ordinance. Accordingly, the Division Bench set aside the direction of the learned Single Judge to re-do the list. The said order was challenged before this Court. This Court confirmed the decision of the Division Bench and held as follows:

"Therefore, an appeal would lie under Section 19 when an order in exercise of the jurisdiction of the High Court punishing the contemnor has been passed. In this case, the finding was that the respondents had not wilfully disobeyed the order. So there is no order punishing the respondent for violation of the orders of the High Court. Accordingly, an appeal under Section 19 would not lie.

The question is whether seniority list is open to review in the contempt proceedings to find out, whether it is in conformity with-the directions issued by the earlier Benches. It is seen that once there is an order passed by the Government on the basis of the directions issued by the Court, there arises a fresh cause of act on to seek redressal in an appropriate forum. The preparation of the seniority list may be wrong or may be right or may or may not be in conformity with the directions. But that would be a fresh cause of action for the aggrieved party to avail of the opportunity of judicial review. But that cannot be considered to be the wilful violation of the order. After reexercising the judicial review in contempt proceedings, a fresh direction by the learned single Judge cannot be given to redraw the seniority list. In other words, the learned Judge was exercising the jurisdiction to consider the matter on merits in the contempt proceedings. It would not be permissible...."

11. The position emerging from these decisions, in regard to appeals against orders in contempt proceedings may be summarized thus:

I. An appeal under Section 19 is maintainable only against an order or decision of the High Court passed in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt, that is, an order imposing punishment for contempt.

II. Neither an order declining to initiate proceedings for contempt, nor an order initiating proceedings for contempt nor an order dropping the proceedings for contempt nor an order acquitting or exonerating the contemnor, is appealable under Section 19 of the CC Act. In special circumstances, they may be open to challenge under Article 136 of the Constitution.

III. In a proceeding for contempt, the High Court can decide whether any contempt of court has been committed, and if so, what should be the punishment and matters incidental thereto. In such a proceeding, it is not appropriate to adjudicate or decide any issue relating to the merits of the dispute between the parties.

IV. Any direction issued or decision made by the High Court on the merits of a dispute between the parties, will not be in the exercise of 'jurisdiction to punish for contempt' and therefore, not appealable under Section 19 of CC Act. The only exception is where such direction or decision is incidental to or inextricably connected with the order punishing for contempt, in which event the appeal under Section 19 of the Act, can also encompass the incidental or inextricably connected directions.

V. If the High Court, for whatsoever reason, decides an issue or makes any direction, relating to the merits of the dispute between the parties, in a contempt proceedings, the aggrieved person is not without remedy. Such an order is open to challenge in an intra-court appeal (if the order was of a learned Single Judge and there is a provision for an intra-court appeal), or by seeking special leave to appeal under Article 136 of the Constitution of India (in other cases)."

(IV) In R.N. Dey & others v. Bhagyabati Pramanik & others (2000) 4 SCC 400 the Hon'ble Apex Court held thus:

"10. In our view the aforesaid contention of the learned counsel for the respondents requires to be rejected on the ground that after receipt of the notice, concerned officers tendered unconditional apology and after accepting the same, the High Court rejected the prayer for discharge of the Rule issued for contempt action. When the Court either suo moto or on a motion or a reference, decides to take action and initiate proceedings for contempt, it assumes jurisdiction to punish for contempt. The exercise of jurisdiction to punish for contempt commences with the initiation of a proceeding for contempt and if the order is passed not discharging the Rule issued in contempt proceedings, it would be an order or decision in exercise of its jurisdiction to punish for contempt. Against such order, appeal would be maintainable."

(V) In Jyothilal K.R., I.A.S and Another v. Mathai M.J., [2014 (1) KHC 153], a Hon'ble Division Bench of this Court held as follows:

“21. R.6 provides that Division Bench alone can take cognizance of the contempt proceedings. R.8 provides for preliminary hearing and notice when the matter is placed for preliminary hearing before the Division Bench. R.13 provides for hearing of the case and trial, followed by R.15 indicating the procedure for trial. So far as present cases are concerned, by virtue of proviso (2) to R.6, civil contempt is to be placed before the Judge who passed the judgment, decree, direction or order etc. Once the Judge is satisfied that no prima facie case is made out, the proceedings be dropped or dismiss the petition. Learned Single Judge in this process is required to first look into the matter in order to find out whether there is prima facie case against the respondent or not. Then alone the matter has to be placed before the Division Bench to take cognizance in the matter. Prior to introduction of second proviso to R.6, even in cases where civil contempt was alleged in respect of a judgment, decree etc. the matter was being posted before a Division Bench. By amending this Rule, where civil contempt is alleged in respect of a judgment, decree, direction etc. of a learned Single Judge, the matter is placed before that Judge who holds a preliminary enquiry. After an enquiry, if no prima facie case is made out or it is not expedient to proceed with the matter further, learned Judge can dismiss the petition. If a prima facie case is made out as per the opinion of the learned Judge, in the absence of respondent not tendering any unconditional apology or if tendered; in the opinion of the learned Single Judge cannot be accepted, then the learned Single Judge may direct that the matter be posted before the Division Bench dealing with contempt petitions. The learned Single Judge is required to hold a preliminary enquiry, only to find out whether there is or not a prima facie case. He shall not take cognizance in the matter. He directs the matter to be posted before the Division Bench only if he finds that there is a prima facie case. Only after learned Single Judge finds that a prima facie case is made out, the petition would be placed before a Division Bench for a preliminary hearing as per R.8 of the Contempt of Courts (CAT) Rules. Again, at the time of preliminary hearing as per sub rule (ii) of R.8, Division Bench also has to satisfy itself whether a prima facie case is mad

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e out against the respondent. Only when the Division Bench satisfies that a prima facie case is made out, notice to the respondent shall be issued. When notice is issued to the respondent, it shall be served in the manner specified in the Contempt Rules. On service of notice as per R.10 and the format provided therein, the respondent shall appear in person before the Court on the first day of hearing or when the case stands posted unless he is exempted from such appearance. This exemption to appear must be an order of the Court. Once reply is filed, Division Bench shall consider the same and proceed further. After hearing the parties, it is permissible for the Division Bench either to proceed with the matter in case prima facie case is made out by framing charges against him only after being satisfied that there is a prima facie case as required under R.13 of the Rules. In other words, prior to issuance of notice, Division Bench must satisfy that there is a prima facie case and before framing charges, on consideration of the matter, including the reply to be filed by the respondent contemnor, the Division Bench has to ponder over the matter to find out whether a prima facie case is made out or not. The rules framed by the High Court mentioned above explicitly make the position clear that Division Bench alone has to take cognizance of the contempt petition and the learned Single Judge, in the case of a civil contempt, has only to hold a preliminary enquiry to find out whether a prima facie case is made out or not. Further, second proviso enables the learned Single Judge to drop the proceedings, if, in his opinion, no prima facie case is made out. If the opinion is otherwise, the matter will be posted before the Division Bench for a preliminary hearing. 22. Reading of R.6 and other relevant rules explicitly clarifies the position that learned Single Judge has to hold a preliminary enquiry to decide whether a prima facie case is made out or not and nothing more is required. This finding of the learned Single Judge does not preclude the Division Bench from proceeding with the trial as the rules make it clear that Division Bench also has to find out a prima facie case at the time of hearing. Issuance of notice to the contemnor by the learned Single Judge to hold preliminary enquiry is only for a short exercise whether a prima facie case is made out or not. 26. …........ as contemplated under second proviso to R.6, learned Single Judge has to find out whether a prima facie case of contempt is made out or not and then refer the matter to a Division Bench which alone can take cognizance and proceed with the matter further. High Court Rules clearly indicate, after taking cognizance when notice is issued by the Division Bench, unless the respondent contemnor is exempted from personal appearance, he should necessarily appear before the Court. Till then there is no requirement for the appearance of the respondent contemnor especially for the limited purpose of making an enquiry whether a prima facie case is made out to refer the matter to a Division Bench or not. In that view of the matter, for the reasons mentioned above, all the appeals are allowed setting aside the orders of the learned Single Judge.” (VI) In Sujitendra Nath Singh Roy v. State of West Bengal and Ors. [(2015) 12 SCC 514], the Hon'ble Supreme Court held thus: "5. There is no caveat to the proposition of law that Under Section 19 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 an appeal lies before the Supreme Court only against such order of the High Court which imposes punishment for contempt and no appeal will lie against an interlocutory order or an order dropping or refusing to initiate contempt proceedings. This was clearly laid down in the case of State of Maharashtra v. Mahboob S. Allibhoy (1996) 4 SCC 411. This view was also followed in several cases including in the case of Midnapore Peoples' Coop. Bank Ltd. v. Chunilal Nanda (2006) 5 SCC 399." (VII) In ECL. Finance Limited v. Harikishan Shankarji Gudipati & others [(2018) 13 SCC 142], the Hon'ble Apex Court at paras 4 & 7 held as follows: "4. Learned counsel for the respondents has referred to two decisions of this Court in R.N. Dey and Others v. Bhagyabati Pramanik and Others and Tamilnadu Mercantile Bank Shareholders Welfare Association (2) v. S.C. Sekar and Others and made a persuasive submission regarding the maintainability of the appeal. We are afraid that the decisions relied upon by the respondents do not further their case, in the given facts and circumstances. R.N. Dey (supra) was a case where the High Court declined to accept the unconditional apology tendered by the contemnor. It was in that context that this Court held that the contemnor could file an appeal since he was otherwise entitled to be discharged in case the unconditional apology had been accepted. In other words, this Court was of the view that the decision to reject the unconditional apology and proceed further was an order or decision to proceed to punish the contemnor. Hence, it was held that such a decision or order was appealable. That is not the situation in the present case. And in any case, at para 13, the Court made it clear that: "In the present proceedings the question whether appeal under Section 19 is maintainable or not is not required to be decided finally as, in our view, facts of this case are grossly inadequate and the contempt proceedings were not required to be initiated at all." 7. Learned counsel for the respondents submits that before issuing notice, the learned Single Judge had considered the merits of the case and had already made his mind to punish the respondents and, therefore, an appeal would lie, in view of the decisions referred to above. We are afraid the contention made by learned counsel for the respondents cannot be appreciated. The observations made by the learned Single Judge in the Order dated 22nd December, 2016, while issuing notice in the contempt petition, is only for the prima facie satisfaction as to whether the contempt petition needs to be considered on merits. Only after such a preliminary stage, notice can be issued. Now, it is open to the respondents to file their reply and after considering the defence, the learned Single Judge will have to take a call as to whether it is a case to be proceeded against for punishing the respondents. In case such a decision is taken by the High Court, it is, at that stage, that the respondents get a right to file an appeal before the Division Bench in terms of Section 19(1)(a) of the Act. Such a stage having not arisen, the impugned order passed by the Division Bench is only to be set aside. Ordered accordingly." On the facts and circumstances of the instant appeal, it could be deduced that the learned single Judge, on a consideration of the material on record, has dismissed the contempt petition, as aforesaid. In the light of the decisions extracted above, contempt appeal is not maintainable and the same is dismissed. No costs.
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21-09-2020 Tvl. Transtonnelstroy Afcons Joint Venture, Represented by its Authorised Signatory, Chennai Versus Union of India, Represented by its Secretary, Ministry of Finance, New Delhi & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
21-09-2020 Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., New Delhi Versus M/s. Guptasons Jewellers & Gems Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
21-09-2020 New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Represented by its Divisional Manager Versus Shanthamma & Another High Court of Karnataka
15-09-2020 United India Insurance Company Ltd., Through The Regional Manager, New Delhi Versus Dinesh Vijay National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
15-09-2020 The New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Represented by its Manager Versus Girija & Another High Court of Karnataka
14-09-2020 Tuticorin Stevedores' Association, Rep.by its Secretary, Tuticorin Versus The Government of India, Rep.by its Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, New Delhi & Others Before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court
14-09-2020 Dr. Varghese Perayil Versus The Election Commission of India, New Delhi, Rep. by Its Secretary & Others High Court of Kerala
10-09-2020 Raina Begum Versus The Union of India Rep. By The Comm & Secy. to The Govt. of India, Home Deptt., New Delhi-01, India & Others High Court of Gauhati
09-09-2020 Oriental College of Teacher Education, Represented by Its Manager, Calicut Versus The Regional Director, National Council for Teacher Education, New Delhi High Court of Kerala
08-09-2020 The Dental Council of India, Aiwan-E-Galib Marg, New Delhi Versus PSR Lakhmi Bhuvaneshwari Preethi & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
08-09-2020 The Branch Manager, The New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Karaikudi Versus Rani & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
08-09-2020 S. Jagannatha Rao Versus Air India Limited, Rep. by its Chairman and Managing Director, New Delhi & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
07-09-2020 Badri Narayan Singh & Another Versus The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Government of India, through the Home Secretary North Block, New Delhi & Others High Court of Judicature at Patna
07-09-2020 The New India Assurance Company Limited Versus Somwati & Others Supreme Court of India
03-09-2020 B. Rajesh & Another Versus Union of India, Rep. by its Ministry of Corporate Affairs, New Delhi & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
01-09-2020 Hyundai Motor India Ltd., New Delhi Versus Harshad Ramji Chauhan & Another National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
01-09-2020 M/s Elgi Equipments Ltd., Rep.by its company Secretary, S. Raveendar, Coimbatore Versus M/s Kurichi New Town Development Authority Rep.by its Member Secretary, Kurichi, Coimbatore & Another High Court of Judicature at Madras
01-09-2020 Pavai Varam Educational Trust Established and Administering, Paavai College of Pharmacy and Research, Rep. by Chairman V. Natarajan Versus The Pharmacy Council of India, Represented by the Secretary cum Registrar, New Delhi High Court of Judicature at Madras
31-08-2020 M/s. Omaxe Limited, New Delhi & Another Versus Divya Karun & Another National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
28-08-2020 Inter Gold India Pvt. Ltd., Maharashtra & Another Versus New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Maharashtra National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
28-08-2020 M/s Urban Systems Versus The Union of India Rep. By The Secretary To The Govt of India, Min of Finance, Deptt of Revenue Central Board of Indirect Taxes And Customs, North Block, New Delhi & Others High Court of Gauhati
26-08-2020 Karvy Stock Broking Limited, Represented by its Vicepresident (Legal) Ch. Viswanath Versus The Union of India, Represented by its Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, New Delhi & Others High Court of for the State of Telangana
26-08-2020 Davinder Nath Sethi & Another Versus M/s. Purearth Infrastructure Limited, New Delhi National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
26-08-2020 New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Delhi Versus Maninderjeet Singh Khera National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
25-08-2020 Gopal Krishna Mishra Versus State of Chhattisgarh through The Secretary, Department of Tribal Welfare Development, Mantralaya, New Raipur Chhattisgarh & Others High Court of Chhattisgarh
25-08-2020 The New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Branch Office, Villupuram Versus J. Manimaran & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
24-08-2020 Sanjay Nayyar Versus State of NCT Delhi, New Delhi & Others National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
24-08-2020 United India Insurance Co. Ltd., New Delhi Versus Singhla Engineers & Contractors Pvt. Ltd. & Another National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
24-08-2020 R.K. Dawra Versus Union of India, Through Secretary Ministry of Communication, Department of Telecommunication, New Delhi & Others Central Administrative Tribunal Chandigarh Bench
21-08-2020 Pankaj Chaudhary, HCS, Special Secretary, Public Health Engineer Department Versus Union of India, through its Secretary, Department of Personnel & Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, New Delhi & Others Central Administrative Tribunal Chandigarh Bench
21-08-2020 Dr. Parimal Roy, Working as Director, Indian Council of Agricultural Research NIVEDI Versus The President, Indian Council of Agricultural Research Krishi Bhavan, New Delhi & Others Central Administrative Tribunal Bangalore Bench
19-08-2020 V.K. Somarajan Pillai Versus Union of India, Represented by the Secretary to Govt. of India, Department of Posts, New Delhi & Others Central Administrative Tribunal Ernakulam Bench
19-08-2020 Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., New Delhi Versus Adv. Shiji Joseph & Others National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
19-08-2020 Babubhai Bhagvanji Tandel Versus New India Assurance Company Ltd., Maharashtra National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
19-08-2020 Vijay Cotton & Fibre Co., Maharashtra Versus New India Insurance Company Ltd., Maharashtra & Others National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
18-08-2020 The Registrar (Judicial), High Court of Judicature of Bombay, Bench at Aurangabad Versus The Union of India, The Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi & Others In the High Court of Bombay at Aurangabad
18-08-2020 Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Ltd., New Delhi Versus Astha Cement Pvt. Ltd. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
17-08-2020 The New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Chhattisgarh & Another Versus Astu Ram & Others High Court of Chhattisgarh
17-08-2020 New India Assurance Company Ltd., New Delhi Versus Shailendra Prasad Singh National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
14-08-2020 Kasmikoya Biyyammabiyoda & Others Versus Union of India, Represented by Home Secretary, Secretariat, Government of India, New Delhi & Others High Court of Kerala
13-08-2020 Brahmaputra Infrastructure Ltd, New Delhi & Another Versus State of Bihar & Another High Court of Judicature at Patna
12-08-2020 Scott Christian College, Rep.by its Correspondent S. Byju Nizeth Paaul Versus The Member Secretary, All India Council for Technical Education, New Delhi & Another High Court of Judicature at Madras
12-08-2020 Abdul Saleem Pattakal & Another Versus The Director General Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, A-Wing, New Delhi & Others High Court of Kerala
07-08-2020 M/s. B & B Growing, New Delhi & Another Versus Capital Co-Op. Group Housing Society Ltd., Delhi & Another National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
07-08-2020 The Commissioner of Income Tax-V, New Delhi Versus M/s. Nalwa Investment Ltd. & Others High Court of Delhi
07-08-2020 Surender Singh Dahiya, Additional Director, Agriculture Department, Government of Haryana (Panchkula) Versus Union of India, through Secretary, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Personnel & Training, New Delhi & Others Central Administrative Tribunal Chandigarh Bench
07-08-2020 Citibank N.A., New Delhi Versus Deepanshu Kumar & Others National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
06-08-2020 Rajiv Bal Versus Harrison Industries, New Delhi & Others National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
06-08-2020 Peter & Others Versus Union of India, Represented by Its Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, New Delhi & Others High Court of Kerala
06-08-2020 New India Assurance Company Ltd., Divisional Office, Kottayam, Rep. by The Manager Versus O.S. Varghese & Others High Court of Kerala
04-08-2020 Union of India, Rep by its Secretary to the Government, Department of Home Affairs, New Delhi & Others Versus Siva Lakshmi High Court of Judicature at Madras
04-08-2020 M/s. Pioneer Power Ltd, Rep. by its Chief General Manager, Therkukattur Village, Ramanathapuram Versus Union of India, Rep. by its Secretary Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, New Delhi & Others Before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court
04-08-2020 Regional Manager, Bajaj Allianz General Ins. Co. Ltd., New Delhi & Another Versus Capt. Bibhuti Mohan Jha National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
04-08-2020 P. Anil Kumar @ Chempazhanthi Anil & Others Versus The Indian Red Cross Society, Represented by Its Secretary General, National IRCS, New Delhi & Others High Court of Kerala
31-07-2020 National Insurance Co. Ltd. Through Rajesh Kumar Dy. Manager, New Delhi Versus Biking Food Products (P) Ltd., Telangana National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
31-07-2020 New India Assurance Co. Ltd. Thru. Manager Versus Dr. Vikas Sethi & Others High Court Of Judicature At Allahabad Lucknow Bench
30-07-2020 Som Nath Bhatt Versus Central Provident Fund Commissioner, New Delhi & Another National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
30-07-2020 C.R. Mahesh Versus Union of India, Represented by The Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi & Others High Court of Kerala
30-07-2020 Som Nath Bhatt Versus Central Provident Fund Commissioner, New Delhi & Another National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
30-07-2020 Jalgaon Golden Transport Pvt. Ltd. Versus The Union of India, Through its Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, New Delhi & Others In the High Court of Bombay at Aurangabad
29-07-2020 New Aadinath Plywood & Hardware Through Its Proprietor, Shri Sanjay, M.P. Versus Nandini Photo Studio, M.P. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
28-07-2020 N. Madhavan Versus Union of India Rep. by its Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, New Delhi & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
27-07-2020 Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. Through Its Duly Constituted Attorney, Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., New Delhi Versus Vikash Kumar National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
27-07-2020 Amar Chand Singh Versus C.B.I. Thru. Director, New Delhi & Others High Court Of Judicature At Allahabad Lucknow Bench
24-07-2020 Hindustan Insecticides Ltd., Through Its Authorized Representative, New Delhi Versus Thakar & Others National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
24-07-2020 National Insurance Company Limited Through Its Duly Constituted Attorney Manager, New Delhi Versus M/s. D.D Spinners Pvt. Ltd., Panipat National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
24-07-2020 The New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Represented by its Manager, Chennai Versus Murugan & Another High Court of Judicature at Madras
22-07-2020 Kabilan Manoharan Versus Union of India Rep. by its Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Transport Bhavan, New Delhi, & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
22-07-2020 Director of Income Tax-II (International Taxation) New Delhi & Another Versus M/s. Samsung Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. Supreme Court of India
22-07-2020 M/s. TDI Infrastructure Ltd. (Through Its Authorised Representative), New Delhi Versus Sukhmal Jain & Another National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
21-07-2020 Maruti Suzuki India Limited, New Delhi Versus Mukesh Kumar & Others National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
20-07-2020 National Insurance Co. Ltd. Through National Legal Vertical, New Delhi Versus M/s. Krishna Spico Industries Pvt. Ltd., Ghaziabad & Another National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
17-07-2020 M/s. Arudra Engineering Private Limited, Represented by its Managing Director, R. Natraj Versus M/s. Pathanjali Ayurved Limited, Represented by its Director, New Delhi High Court of Judicature at Madras
16-07-2020 G. Suneetha Versus The Union of India, rep., by its Secretary, Ministry of Defense, New Delhi & Another High Court of for the State of Telangana
14-07-2020 M/s. Ruchi Soya Industries Limited, Rep. by its Authorised representative Goregaon Mumbai Versus Union of India, Rep. by its Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, New Delhi & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
13-07-2020 M/s. P.R. Mani Electronics Rep. by its Proprietor, Thiruvannamalai Versus Union of India Rep. by Secretary, Ministry of Finance, New Delhi & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
10-07-2020 Life Insurance Corporation of India Through Its Additional Secretary (Legal), New Delhi Versus Anil Laxman Matade National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
09-07-2020 Khem Raj Verma & Others Versus Union of India, through Ministry of Human Resource & Development, Department of Higher Education, New Delhi & Another Central Administrative Tribunal Chandigarh Bench
09-07-2020 Abdul Wahid Bhat Versus Union of India, through Defence Secretary, New Delhi & Others Central Administrative Tribunal Chandigarh Bench
09-07-2020 Ravindra Versus Union of India, through its Under Secretary, General Administration Department, New Delhi & Others In the High Court of Bombay at Nagpur
09-07-2020 New Nagpur Mahila Gramin Vikas Credit Co-Operative Society Ltd. & Another Versus Suman Balaji Thakre National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC
08-07-2020 Velankani Information Systems Limited, Represented by its Manging Director, Kiron D. Shah Versus Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs Government of India, New Delhi & Others High Court of Karnataka
08-07-2020 The New India Assurance Co. Ltd., Coimbatore Versus Mettilda & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
07-07-2020 Rajesh Kumar Versus Union of India through the Secretary Ministry of Communication, New Delhi & Others Central Administrative Tribunal Principal Bench New Delhi
01-07-2020 Seema Shukla Versus New Delhi Municipal Corporation & Another High Court of Delhi
01-07-2020 Sony India Pvt. Ltd. Mohan Co Operative Industrial Estate, New Delhi & Others Versus Jose George Kerala State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission Thiruvananthapuram
30-06-2020 Dr. P.S. Sandeep & Others Versus The Government of India, Rep. by its Secretary to Government, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi & Others High Court of Judicature at Madras
30-06-2020 Abhishek Buildcon Pvt. Ltd. Versus New Delhi Municipal Council High Court of Delhi
29-06-2020 R. Sampath Versus Union of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, rep. by its Secretary, New Delhi & Others High Court of for the State of Telangana
29-06-2020 Ramesh Malhotra & Another Versus Emaar Mgf Land Limited, Through its Managing Director, New Delhi & Another National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission NCDRC