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R. Jaikrishnan @ Jaikrishnan Nair v/s G. Praveen Kumar


Company & Directors' Information:- PRAVEEN INDIA LTD . [Active] CIN = L21029WB1983PLC036326

Company & Directors' Information:- PRAVEEN & COMPANY PRIVATE LIMITED [Strike Off] CIN = U99999DL1999PTC098397

    Con.Case(C). No. 1518 of 2019 in Crl. MC. No. 265 of 2018

    Decided On, 11 October 2019

    At, High Court of Kerala

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE R. NARAYANA PISHARADI

    For the Petitioner: R. Dipu, Advocate. For the Respondent: V. Sreeja, PP.



Judgment Text

1. This is a case in which contempt of court proceedings are sought to be initiated against the respondent, who is a Judicial Officer, on the ground that he has willfully disobeyed the order passed by this Court to dispose of a case within a specified time.

2. The petitioner is the accused in the case C.C.No.50/2015 pending on the file of the Court of the Judicial First Class Magistrate-I, Haripad. The allegation against him is that he has committed the offences punishable under Sections 468, 471, 409 and 420 I.P.C.

3. The petitioner had filed Crl.M.C.No.265/2018 before this Court for quashing the proceedings against him in the aforesaid case. As per the order dated 15.10.2018, this Court disposed of the aforesaid petition, by issuing a direction to the Judicial First Class Magistrate-I, Haripad to dispose of the case C.C.No.50/2015 within a period of eight months from the date of receipt or production of a copy of that order.

4. This petition is filed for initiating contempt of court proceedings against the respondent, who is the Judicial First Class Magistrate-I, Haripad on the allegation that he has wilfully disobeyed and deliberately flouted the order dated 15.10.2018 passed by this Court in Crl.M.C.No.265/2018.

5. Heard learned counsel for the petitioner and the learned Public Prosecutor.

6. This Court had directed the respondent to submit a report in the matter. In his report dated 02.09.2019, the respondent has stated that he could not dispose of the case within the period stipulated by this Court for the reason that further investigation conducted by the police in the case was going on. The respondent has stated in his report that he received a copy of the order in Crl.M.C.No.265/2018 only on 12.11.2018 and thereafter, he had taken earnest steps to expedite the trial of the case and dispose of the same within the period stipulated by this Court. In his report, the respondent has narrated the steps taken by him to expedite the trial of the case. However, he has admitted that the period fixed by this Court for disposal of the case expired on 12.07.2019 but he could not make a request to this Court, before that date, for extension of time for disposal of the case.

7. Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') defines 'civil contempt'. As per Section 2(b), civil contempt means willful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or willful breach of undertaking given to a court.

8. The expression 'willful' in Section 2(b) of the Act means an act or omission which is done voluntarily and intentionally and with the specific intent to do something the law forbids or with the specific intent to fail to do something the law requires to be done, that is to say, with bad purpose, either to disobey or to disregard the law. It signifies a deliberate action done with evil intent or with a bad motive or purpose (See Ashok Paper Kamgar Union v. Dharam Godha: AIR 2004 SC 105).

9. In order to initiate contempt proceedings, prima facie, it has to be established that disobedience of the order was 'willful'. The word 'willful' introduces a mental element and hence, requires looking into the mind of person/contemnor by gauging his actions, which is an indication of one's state of mind. 'Willful' means knowingly intentional, conscious, calculated and deliberate with full knowledge of consequences flowing there from. It excludes casual, accidental, bonafide or unintentional acts or genuine inability. Willful acts do not encompass involuntary or negligent actions. The act has to be done with a bad purpose or without justifiable excuse or stubbornly, obstinately or perversely. Willful act is to be distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently. It does not include any act done negligently or involuntarily. The deliberate conduct of a person means that he knows what he is doing and intends to do the same. Therefore, there has to be a calculated action with evil motive on his part. Even if there was disobedience of an order, if such disobedience was the result of some compelling circumstances under which it was not possible for a person to comply with the order, it cannot be found that it was willful disobedience (See Ram Kishan v. Tarun Bajaj : (2014) 16 SCC 204).

10. Contempt of a civil nature can be held to be made out only if there has been a willful disobedience of the order. Even though there may be disobedience, yet if the same does not reflect that it has been a conscious and willful disobedience, a case for contempt cannot be held to have been made out. The ingredients of willful disobedience must be there before anyone can be hauled up for the charge of contempt of a civil nature (See Dinesh Kumar Gupta v. United India Insurance Company : (2010) 12 SCC 770).

11. The Court shall always zealously enforce its order. But, a mere technicality shall not be a ground to punish the contemnor. A proceeding for contempt should be initiated with utmost reservation. It should be exercised with due care and caution (See Sushila Raje Holkar v. Anil : (2008) 14 SCC 392).

12. A proceeding under the Act has got serious consequences. Contempt proceedings against a subordinate judicial officer cannot be casually initiated by the High Court. This Court has to be, prima facie, satisfied that there was willful disobedience to the order of this Court by the officer concerned. Before a subordinate court can be found to have disobeyed the order of the superior court, it is necessary to show that the disobedience was intentional. There may possibly be cases where disobedience is accidental (See B.K.Kar v. Chief Justice of Orissa : AIR 1961 SC 1367).

13. In the instant case, the report made by the respondent reveals that further investigation was being conducted by the police in the case which was ordered to be disposed of by this Court. This fact is not disputed by the learned counsel for the petitioner. In order to constitute contempt, the order of the Court must be of such a nature which is capable of execution by the person charged in normal circumstances. It should not require any extra ordinary effort nor should be dependent, either wholly or in part, upon any act or omission of a third party for its compliance (See Ashok Paper Kamgar Union v. Dharam Godha: AIR 2004 SC 105). The learned Magistrate could have disposed of the case only after the police filed report regarding the further investigation conducted by them. It means that, there was no willful disobedience on the part of the learned Magistrate to the order passed by this Court in Crl.M.C.No.265/2018. In these circumstances, I am not satisfied that there is a prima facie case established by the petitioner for initiating proceedings against the respondent under the Act. The petition is liable to be dismissed.

14. However, this Court cannot ignore the fact that, the learned Magistrate should have made a request to this Court for extension of time for disposal of the case, before the expiry of the period stipulated by this Court for disposal. No satisfactory explanation is given by the learned Magistrate in his report for not making such a request promptly. The learned Magistrate made a request to this Court for granting extension of time for disposal of the case, only on 20.07.2019.

15. In this connection, two Circulars issued by this Court are relevant. As per Circular No.4/1986 dated 31.01.1986, this Court had directed that when time bound disposal is ordered by a superior court, it shall be the duty of the Judicial Officer/Chief Ministerial Officer/Members of staff in-charge of Bench and Records to make necessary endorsements in the papers and take steps for compliance with the direction of the High Court. Again, as per Circular No.3/2000 dated 18

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.10.2000, this Court had directed that all the courts below shall maintain a register in the prescribed form and shall make necessary entries in such register regarding the directions issued from the superior courts with regard to disposal of cases within a specific period. 16. Strict and scrupulous compliance with the directions contained in the aforesaid two Circulars issued by this Court would enable the presiding officers of the lower courts to avoid any omission to make prompt request for extension of time for disposal of time bound cases. 17. Consequently, the petition is dismissed. If the original of the letter dated 20.07.2019 sent by the learned Magistrate for granting extension of time for disposal of the case C.C.No.50/2015 has been received in the office of this Court, the Registry shall put up the same for orders before the appropriate Bench.
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