Delhi Development Authority Vs. Skipper
Construction & Anr  INSC 124 (8 February 1995)
P.B. Sawant, P.B. Mohan, S. (J) Jeevan Reddy, B.P. (J)
1995 SCC (3) 507 JT 1995 (2) 391 1995 SCALE (1)734
facts leading to contempt proceedings are as under:
8.10.1980, an auction was held by the Delhi Development Authority (hereinafter
referred to as the DDA ) of the 394 Commercial Tower Plot, Jhandewalan, Block
E, New Delhi ad measuring about 2540 sq. mtrs. The
first respondent. Ws. Skipper Construction Co. (P) Ltd. (hereinafter referred
to as the Skipper)was the highest bidder, its bid being Rs.9.82 crores. As per
the conditions of the auction, Skipper deposited 25% of the bid amount. The
said bid was confirm the DDA on 14.10.1980. Skipper was called upon to make the
balance of payment of 75% of the bid amount within 90 days as per the
conditions of the auction.
Government of India issued directions to the DDA to accept the request of
Skipper and to grant an indulgence to it and directed the DDA to reschedule the
recovery of 75% of the bid amount with interest from the Skipper. Consequent to
this, DDA called upon the Skipper to enter into fresh agreement, license
agreement and furnish bank guaranties in compliance with the directions of the
11.8.1987, Skipper entered in a license agreement, paid 50% of the original bid
and secured payment of the balance 50 % of the bid and interest at the rate of
18% per annum thereon by submitting bank guarantees for Rs.9.82 crores, in
terms 'of which a sum of approximately 1.944 crores was required to be paid as
each instalment. A total of 5 instalments was payable every six months., the
first being due on 15.9.1987 and the last on or about 15.9.1989.
Against the first instalment of Rs.1.944 crores falling due on 15.9.1987, DDA
recovered about Rs. 88.76 lacs by encashment of the bank guarantee on
7.12.1987. Thereafter the first respondent did not pay in terms of the
4.10.1988, the Lt Governor issued a direction at the request of Skipper,
deferring recovery from Skipper of the 2nd instalment as per the agreement
dated 11.8.1987 till one month after the sanctioning of the building plans.
August, 1987, the first respondent filed writ petition in the High Court of
Delhi, being CWP No. 2371 of '1989. The principal relief sought in the writ
petition related to sanctioning of building plans and permission for
construction. An interim order was passed directing the Skipper to furnish
fresh bank guarantee since the bank guarantee furnished earlier had lapsed. The
DDA did not encash the fresh bank granite which was detective. Time and again
the DDA represented to the Court that the monies were outstanding from the
Skipper and no indulgence ought to be shown to them till the payments were
made. The question of payment of the outstanding amount of over Rs. 8 crores
under the principal sum itself was deferred from time to time.
16.2.1990, Lt. Governor revoked the order dated 4.10.1988 deferring the payment
of instalments. As a result the entire sum became payable in one lump sum.
However, this order of the Lt. Governor was stayed by the Court.
it became necessary f or the DDA to grant conditional and provincial sanction
to plans of the building subject to the payment of monies due to the DDA.
19.3.1990, an interim order was passed by the Delhi High Court by which Skipper
was permitted to commence construction without first depositing the dues 395 of
the DDA. Against this order an appeal was prefer-red.
Division Bench directed tie payment of a token sum of Rs. 5 lacs which was
offered by the Skipper as a gesture of goodwill within 2 days; a sum Rs. 15 lacs
within 15 days and 1.944 crores within one month to the, DDA. It was further
directed that the quantum of monies and the mode of payment will be decided at
the time of final disposal of the writ petition.
Even this order was not complied with. Notwithstanding this, the Skipper
approached the Court once again for exten- sion of time to make payment and for
direction to construct.
Court extended the time by one month on 16.4.1990, af- fording liberty to the
DDA to encash the bank guarantee.
bank guarantee could not be encashed because it was conditional. By then the
entire monies had fallen due.
amounts had not been paid. The 1990 against the interim orders dated 19.3.1990
and 16.4.1990 passed by the High Court of Delhi. By an order dated 3.5.1990
this Court stayed further construction and made it conditional upon payment of Rs.
Suit No. 1 1875 of 1990 was filed by the Skipper for a direction that the DDA
ought not to insist upon payment by cash or draft and ought to be directed to encash
bank guarantee. The learned Vacation Judge issued orders directing the DDA to
invoke the bank guarantee. However, the suit was ultimately dismissed.
21.12.1990, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court dismissed C.W.P. No.2371
of 1989 directing Skipper to pay to the DDA by cash or demand draft a sum of
Rs.8,12,68,789/- within 30 days; to stop construction till payment is made;
the event of non-payment by the skipper, DDA would be entitled to enter upon
the property and forfeit the monies received by the DDA.
14.1.1991, detailed reasons for its operative order come to be rendered by the
Division Bench of the Delhi High Court with further direction giving effect to
clause 15 of the license agreement dated 11.18,1987 that in the event of
non-compliance of the payment by the Skipper the property shall stand vested in
the DDA, free from all encumbrances, in addition to the forfeiture of the
Against the dismissal of CWP No. 2371 of 1989 Skipper filed SLP (C) No. 186 of
1991 before this Court.
29.1.1991, a Division Bench on which one of us, P.B. Sawant, J., was a party).
It inter alia reads as under:
That the petitioners herein shall deposit a sum of Rs.2.5. crores (Rupees two crores
and fifthly lacs only) in cash/ bank draft with the Delhi Development Authority
within one month from today and the petitioners will further deposit similar
amount by cash/bank draft by 8th April, 1991.
That the petitioners shall be permitted to resume the construction of the
building in question only after making the first deposit as stated in clause (i)
above. DDA filed SLP (C) Nos, 6338-6339 of this Court passed an interim order
(in (iii) That if the petitioners fail to deposit the amounts as aforesaid, the
Delhi Development Authority will be free to act. in accordance with the
impugned order dated 21st December, 1990 of High Court 396 in CWP No. 2371 of
the petitioners shall not induct any person in the building or create any right
in favour of any third party.
-Mat the matter be listed for further orders before this Court on 9th April, 1991."
4.2.1991, in violation of the agreement and in gross contempt of the above
order, the Skipper issued advertise- ment in the leading newspapers seeking to
create 3rd party rights.
25.1.1993, SLP(C) No. 186 of 1991 was dismissed by this Court. By virtue of the
above order, the DDA on, 10.2. 1993 re-entered and took physical possession of
the said property, free from all encumbrances; monies paid by the Skipper were
all these, Skipper filed yet another suit on the original side of the High
Court of Delhi, being Suit No. 770 of 1993 for the reliefs of-.
induction restraining the DDA from interfering with the title and possession of
mandatory injuction directing the DDA to recompute the principal amount and
interest payable by Skipper;
a declaration that the present calculations are wrong;
a declaration that re-entry/ re-possession and determination of the rights of
Skipper are bad in law and nonest;
a declaration that all dues have, been paid by Skipper to the DDA; and (Vi) a
declaration that clause 15 of the License Agreement dated 1 1. 8. 1987 is non-est
and bad in law.
service of notice, DDA filed application, I.A. No.8500 of 1993 in Suit No. 770
of 1993, for rejection of the plaint as all the issues raised by Skipper were resjudicata
and even otherwise the plaint was barred by law.
said application is pending disposal.
8.11.93, DDA issued notices for auction of the said property. The 2nd
respondent sought to implead itself in the suit and on 1.12.1993 filed an
application for stay of auction which was opposed by the DDA.
9.12.1993, a learned Single Judge of the Delhi High Court allowed the auction
to proceed with and restrained the DDA from accepting or confirming the bid at
the auction scheduled for 10. 12.1993. Aggrieved by this order DDA filed SLP(C)
No. 21000 of 1993 against the interim order of the Delhi High Court.
I.A. 3 of 1994 is an application for intervention filedon behalf of DDA. While
disposing of SLP(C) No.21000 of 1993 and the said I.A. No.3 of the 1994 we
issued notice on 29.11.94 by exercise of our Suo Moto powers directing Tejwant
Singh and Mrs. Surinder Kaur to show cause as to why they should not be
punished for contempt of court for their following acts;
Instituting suit being Suit No.770 of 1993 inthe Delhi High Court in respect of
the same subject matter after this Court confirmed the orders of the said High
Court dated 21.12.1990 and 14.1.199 1, by its order date d 23.1.1993.
(b) Entering into agreement for and handing over possession of and receiving
monies and creating interests in the premises in the building under
construction in the suit property, viz., the Commercial Tower Plot, jhandewalan,
Block C, New Delhi, admeasuring about 2540 sq. mtrs. with constructions thereon
which are already made, in defiance of the order of this Court passed on 29th
January, 1991 Notice returnable on 3rd January, 1993".
response to this notice, Tejwant Singh Contemner No.1, filed an affidavit
expressing unconditional and unqualified apology. After so expressing, he sets
out several facts to offer an explanation and not a justification for the steps
which were, taken by him.
to him, the purpose of filing Suit No. 770 of 1993 in the Delhi High Court was
to make payment of reasonable amount. Although the prayers give an impression
that there could be no bar in filing of a suit in civil court, he would add
that the intention of the deponent was not to indulge in litigation which was
already concluded by the Supreme Court.
intention was to see that as far as the quantum of interest was concerned that
can be scaled down and the DDA could be persuaded to realise reasonable
interest instead of exorbitant interest.
deponent, on legal advice and in order to protect the property by making the
payments in instalments, instructed his counsel to file suit in the High Court
of Delhi for mandatory injunctions and declarations. An application under Order
39 Rules 1 and 2 of Civil Procedure Code was also filed in the suit under the
bone fide belief that the same could be filed under law in order to ensure that
during the pendency of the suit also efforts should continuously be made to
settle the matter amicably. The Deponent instructed the counsel to make
averment that the company is ready and willing to make the payment. The counsel
has categorically stated in the application that the company is ready and
willing to pay the amount to DDA as demanded by them in instalments.
company also wrote a letter dated 10th July, 1993 to all its valued customers
apprising them about the dispute with DDA. In the letter also the company made
it amply clear that the matter can be resolved amicably and for that purpose
funds are required. It was requested that the valued customers shall make the
payment of amounts due against them. The bank draft/cash order be sent to the
com- pany in the name of DDA. The company wanted to hand over the drafts to
this explanation, it is urged that there is no intentional or deliberate
flouting of the order dated 29. 1. 1991 passed by this Court.
order of 29.1.1991 was passed after the counsel for Delhi Development Authority
expressed an apprehension that the answering respondent would sell away or
otherwise dispose of the plot to a third party and abscond. The answering
respondent-deponent was personally present in' the Court on 29.1.1991. On that
date, permission to construct had been with them barely for less than a year (w.e.f
19.3.1990) from this Court. It was in that context that the injunction was
interpreted. He did not create any third party right himself. However, he
noticed that in respect of one Khosla, the papers annexed to I.A. No.3 show
that his son had signed some documents evidencing induction of Khosla. He 399
says that there is no other case in relation to which any such impropriety has
Kaur, wife of Tejwant Singh, Contemner No.2, would urge that she has nothing to
do with the day to day running of the company nor has she ever acted or
represented anywhere in regard thereto. She has not signed any paper or
document in relation to the transactions connected with the present
Additional Affidavit was filed on 27.1.1995 by Tejwant Singh, Contemner No.1.
Paragraph 3 of the said addi- tional affidavit states:
respect to the act of entering into agreements for and handing over possession
of and receiving monies and creating interests in the premises in the building
under construction in the suit property viz., the commercial Tower Plot, Jhandewalan,
Block E, New Delhi, admeasuring about 2540 sq. meters with constructions
thereon which are already made in defiance of the order of Hon'ble Supreme
Court passed on 29.1.1991 it is respectfully necessary at this stage to explain
the context in which the order dated 29.1.1991 was passed, understood and acted
upon by the answering respondent. The answering respondent is explaining the
collective contemporaneous under standing of both the parties and respectfully
submit to this Hon'ble
Court that there was
no intentional or deliberate flouting of the order. The order of 29.1.1991 was
passed after the counsel for Delhi Development Authority expressed an
apprehension that the answering respondent would sell away or otherwise dispose
of the plot to a third party and abscond. The answering respondent/ deponent
was personally present in the court on 29.1.1991. On that date permission to
construct had been with them barely for less than a year (w.e.f. 19.3.1990)
from the Hon'ble Delhi High Court.
29.1.1991, the construction on the plot has barely commended and only a part of
the basement had been done. No building was in existence. To preclude the
answering respondent from in any manner giving away physical possession of
either the plot or the proposed building (yet to come up) the order of
29.1.1991 was passed.
most respectfully submitted that at no time during the proceedings, was any
reference made or intended to prohibit or in any manner fetter the booking of
space in the building or collecting money in respect thereof The fact was that
this was the common collective and collided understanding of all the parties
including the Delhi Development Authority is evident from the fact that the
bookings were done before January, 1991 and after January, 1991 to the
knowledge of everyone without any objection, protest and demur. Indeed in the
numerous court proceedings in different courts including the Hon'ble Supreme
Court after 1991 not the slightest grievance was made and no contempt petition
was ever moved by Delhi Development Authority (till the present last round of
proceedings). indeed, it is most respectfully submitted that had answering
respondent known or remotely contemplated that even booking sought to be
fettered, it would have either moved the Hon'ble Court for clarification or would have immediately desisted."
28A. Paragraph (k) reads thus:
29.1.1991 the company entered into agreement with various persons/parties. The
copies of the agreements entered into with them are annexed herewith and are
collectively marked as Annexures 'A' and 'B'. It is pertinent to 399 mention
that the company openly advertised in the Newspapers and the next day DDA also
advertised, in the Newspapers about the Court's order dated 29.1.1991. it is
only after seeing both the advertisements the speculative buyers came forward
to book the flats and each and every person who entered into the agreements
with the company were fully aware of the pendency of the litigation and hence
no third party rights were created." 29.W. G. Ramaswamy, learned senior
counsel for the contemners submits, before filing Suit No. 770 of 1993, the contemners
took legal advice. It was opined that the Civil Writ Petition No. 2371 of 1989
filed before the High Court was not a substitute for suit. The fact that writ
petition was dismissed and the SLP thereon was also dismissed will not take
away the right to file an independent suit. It was only because of that the contemners
filed the suit. There was no deliberate intention to obstruct the course of
justice. May be, the contemners were misguided. Whatever might have been the
conduct of the contemners they had offered unqualified apology in both the
the contemners do not want the learned counsel to advance arguments in defence
of their conduct. They we only kneeling before the court and praying for mercy.
regards the alleged flouting of the order dated 29.1.1991, three questions
there is disobedience of the order dated 29.1.1991.
it is answered in the affirmative, whether the disobedience in wilful?
wilful, what is the consequence?
his, submission, legal advice is a factor to decide whether a disobedience is wilful
or not. He is prepared to disclose even the name of the senior counsel who had
given the opinion. As a matter of fact, in Hoshiar Singh v. Gurbachan Singh AIR
1962 SC 1089 this Court found fault with the contemners therein for not
disclosing the name of the counsel who gave the legal opinion. It could never
have been the intention of the contemners to openly flout the order dated
29.10.1991. By entering into agreements contemners were not creating rights in favour
of third parties. The speculative purchasers being fully aware of the legal
proceedings yet chose to purchase the property which agreements, if ultimately,
did not fructify into sale, they would be entitled to only refund. Before
29.1.1991 1,000 agreements were entered into and after 29.1.1991 1,750
agreements were entered into. Out of these 1,750 agreements, the agreements in
respect of 835 cases were executed while in the case of remaining 915, the
agreements have not been executed. Ibis is the factual position.
the DDA did not take out the contempt application, the contemners were lulled
into the belief that what they were doing was right. Further, the exact scope
of the order that the contemners should not even enter into contract was not
understood by the contemners properly Creation of right could only mean, in the
context, an obligation to refund.
The notice for contempt has been issued practically after nearly three years. If
such a notice had been issued by the High Court he could have pleaded
limitation contained under Section 20 of the 400 Contempt of Courts Act, 197 1,
as a defence. However, as regards exercise of suo Moto powers of this court
under Ar- ticle 129 of the Constitution of India the contemners are not raising
any such plea.
Arun Jaitley, learned counsel for the DDA would submit that the filing of suit
No. 770/93 is nothing but an abuse of process of court. The matter had reached
finality by orders of this Court. Yet to say the suit was filed to protect the
rights of the contemners is ingenious. By filing a suit (No.770 of 1993) and
obstructing the course of justice after this Court dismissed SLP(C) No. 1 86 of
199 1, is a clear case of criminal contempt as laid down in Advocate-General,
State of Bihar v. M/s-Madhya Pradesh Khair Industries 1980 (3) SCC 311 at 315.
This Court had come down heavily upon persons who indulge in obstructionist
methods to defeat or delay justice as laid down in Bloom Himmatlal Desai
1994(6) SCC 322 at page 327.
this case, there is a deliberate disobedience of the order dated 29.1.1991. The
agreement dated 11th
August, 1987 between contemners
and DDA clearly postulates that legal possession and ownership shall remain with
the licenser until full payment of the bid amount along with interest payable
thereon has been made by the licensee. Therefore, the creation of rights in favour
of third parties was never contemplated and there was no scope for
misunderstanding the order dated 29.1.1991. During the state of C.W.P. No. 2371
of 1989 before the High Court the contemners came forward with a plea that
there were 870 buyers of flats but this figure goes on increasing from time to
Ultimately, at the stage, of Suit No. 770 of 1993 the number of buyers came to
2,700. In the agreements entered into after the order dated 29.1.1991 there is
a clear recital that possession is delivered. If this cannot amount to creating
rights in favour of third parties nothing else would.
will now proceed to consider the merits of the above contentions.
The contempt proceedings in this case have been initiated under Article 129 of
the Constitution of India.
said Article reads as follows:
Court to be a court of record. The Supreme Court shall be a court of record and
shall have all powers of such a court including the power to punish for
contempt of itself"
This Court in Shri. C.K. Daphary vs. Shri. O.P. Gupta 1971 (1) SCC 626 pointed
out that it cannot be disputed that in a case of contempt of Supreme Court, the
Court can issue notice suo moto.
About the nature of power, this Court referring to the Privy Council ruling in Sukhdev
Singh Sodhi v.The Chief Justice and Judges of the Pepsu High Court 1954 SCR at
page 461, held:
in Parashurain Detaram v. Emperor, AIR 1945 PC 134 at 136 the Privy Council
said that "this summary power of punishing for contempt .... is a power
which a court must of necessity possess."
this case, as the notice dated 29.11.1994 indicates, it consists of :
Civil Contempt and (2) Criminal Contempt.
Civil contempt is defined under Section 2(b) of the Act.
any wilful disobedience to the order of the Court to do or abstain from doing
any act is prima facie a civil contempt. Civil contempt arises where power of
the Court is invoked and exercised to enforce obedience to orders of the court.
the contrary, criminal contempts are criminal in nature. It may include out
rages on the Judges in open Court, defiant disobedience to the Judges in Court,
libels on Judges or courts or interfering with the courts of justice or any act
which tends to prejudice the courts of justice.
Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred toas the
Act) posits criminal contempt to mean:
words spoken or written;
written or by sings;
by visible act whatsoever which-
any other act whatsoever which- (i) (a) scandalizes or tends to scandalise, (b)
or loweres or tends to lower the authority of any court'or (ii) prejudices or
interferes or tends to interfere with the due course of any judicial
proceeding; or (iii) (a) interferes or tends to interfere with, (b) or
obstructs or tends to obstruct the administration of justice in any other
can be categorically stated that the power as a court of record to punish for
contempt is beyond dispute.
dealing with the scope of the said Section this Court observed in Rachapudi Subba
Rao v. advocate General Andhra Pradesh 1981 (2) SCC 577 at 583 as follows ;
is noteworthy,that in teh categorisation of contempt in three sub-clauses (1)
to (iii) only category (ii)refers to judicial proceeding. Scandalising of court
in its administrative capacity will also be covered by sub-clauses (1) and
(iii) The phrase "administration of justice" in sub-clause (iii) is
far wider in scope than "course of any judicial proceedings". The
last words "in any other manner" of sub-clause (iii) further extended
its ambit and give it a residuary character. Although sub-clauses (1) and (iii)
discribe three distinct species of "criminal contempt." Interference
or tendency to interfere with any judicial proceeding or administration of
justice is a common element of sub-clauses (ii) and (iii) This element is not
criminal contempt of the kind falling under sub-clause (i)".
clear that on 25-1.1993, SLP (C) No. 1 86 of 1991 was dismissed thereby
confirming the judgment of the Delhi High Court rendered in CPW No. 2371 of
1989 dated 14.1.1991 reported in Skipper Construction Co.(P) Ltd. & Anr. vs.
D.A. & Ors. 43 (1991) Delhi Law
Times 636. Thereafter, Suit No. 770 of 1993 was filed practically for the same
relief which formed the subject matter of the earlier writ peti- tion, CWP No.
2371 of 1989.
After the dismissal of SLP(C) 186 of 1991, the DDA re- entered and took
physical possession of the property on 10.2.1993, free from all encumbrances,
forfeiting the monies paid by the contemners. Yet prayer No. 1 in the suit is
for injunction restraining the DDA from interfering with title and possession.
the terms of the license deed dated 11th August, 1987 entered into between DDA (the
licensor) and the contemners (licensee), it was clearly stipulated at
paragraphs 1 and 2 as under:
the licensee shall have license to enter upon the plot described hereinabove
for a period of two and half years from the date of execution of this licence
only for purposes of starting construction of the building in accordance with
the sanctioned building plans.
the licencee shall not be deemed to have any right, title or interest in the
said plot nor shall he have any right to grant such a a right in favour of any
persons. Legal possession and ownership of the said plot shall remain with the
licensor until fill payment of the bid amount along with interest payable
thereon has been made by de licensee.
course, in this case, possession was handed over to the contemners when they
had not even cleared the first instalment. That itself has been criticised by
us and relegated to an enquiry. But, in this case, after disposal of SLP(C) 186
of 1991 when DDA has taken physical possession of the plot, to file a suit and
pray for injunction, as stated above, would clearly constitute criminal
the other prayers are aimed at attacking directly or indirectly the adverse
finding rendered by +he High Court in CWP No.2371 of 1989. The High Court, in
no uncertain terms, held at paragraph 26 of its judgment reported in 43 (1991) Delhi Law Times 636 as under:
therefore, reject all submissions made on behalf of the petitioners and hold
that the D.D.A. is entitled to recover the entire amount of Rs.8,12,68,789/- as
on 1.7.1990 in lump sum in cash or through bank draft. The decision of the
Supreme Court in Dunlop (supra) entitles the D.D.A. to insist upon cash payment
and to reject the bank guarantee.
there is a deliberate breach of the obligations under the Licence Deed and the
Agreement dated 11.8.1987 by the petitioners legal consequences. as mentioned
in term 15 of the Licence Deed, spring into action." 51.Yet, the prayers,
above stated, are made in the suit.
only semblance of defence that is put forth is the suit came to be filed armed
with the legal advice. We are afraid such a plea is worthless. As stated above,
in the case of a criminal contempt, the intention or motive is irrelevant.
even assuming bona fide the contemners thought they could file the suit because
it was "legally opined" that the was not a substitute, the so-called
bona fides are totally irrelevant.
filing of the suit No. 770 of 1993 is nothing but a wilful action on the 403
part of the contemners to underline the dignity of this Court and the majesty
of law. The conduct of the contemners tends to bring the authority and
administration of law into disrespect or even disregard. It equally tends to
interfere with or prejudice the litigants during the litigation.
of the process of court calculated to hamper the due course of judicial
proceeding or the orderly administration of justice is a contempt of court. In
Advocate General, State of Bihar v. Madhya Pradesh Khair Industries 1980(3) SCC
311 at page 315, this court observed;
we are conscious that every abuse of the process of court may not necessarily
amount to contempt to court , abuse of the process of the court calculated to
hamper the due course of a judicial proceeding or the orderly administration of
justice, we must say, is a contempt of court. It may be that certain minor
abuses of the process of the court may be suitably dealt with as between the
parties, by striking out pleadings under the provisions of order 6, rule 16 or
in some other manner. But, on the other hand, it may be necessary to punish as a
contempt, a course of conduct which abuses and makes a mockery of the judicial
process and which thus extends its pernicious influence beyond the parties to
the action and effects the interest of the public in the administration of
as stated by Sir John Donaldson in Attorney General v. Newspaper Publishing PIc,
C.J. Miller Contempt of court 1989 Clarendon Press, Oxford:
"An action for contempt of court arose:
the conduct complained of is specifically intended to impede or prejudice the
administration of justice. Such an intent cannot be expressly or admitted, but
can be inferred from all the circumstances including the foreseeability of the
consequences of the conduct.' 54.At this stage, it is worthwhile for us to
quote Lord Hardwicke, L.C., St.James's Evening Post (1742) 2Atk.409 at P.47 1:
cannot be anything of greater consequence than to keep the streams of justice
clear and pure, that parties may proceed with safety both to themselves and
their characters." 55.Thus, we are clearly of the opinion that the contemners
arc guilty of criminal contempt as defined under Section 2(c) of the Act.
we come to other part of contempt as to whether there has been a disobedience
of our order dated 29.1.91. That order in clause (iv) specifically stated (it
is worthwhile repetition):
the petitioners shall not induct any person in the building or create any right
in favour of any third party." 57.The contemners had caused the
advertisement dated 4.2.91 as follows:
GROUP OF COMPANIES (ANNOUNCES) ISSUE of Commercial Flats for retired/ Retiring
Personnel/Professionals/Self employed & other persons in our BAU MAKHAN SINGH HOUSE JHANDEWALAN TOWER, JHANDEWALAN EXTN.
highly concessional rates It is once in a lifetime opportunity to own a
commercial property of your own in "Bau Makhan Singh House" A Prime
project in the middle of high business environment. The location of tower is as
rare as the offer itself.
FEATURES * Ultra modern multi commercial complex (Shopping cum office complex)
* Ground to 3rd Floor centrally airconditioned with escalators.
Excellent quality of construction, * Interest free payment schedule linked with
Excellent investment returns.)"
The object of this is nothing more than to create rights in favour of third
parties. It is somewhat surprising that the contemners' ingenuity grows by the
passage of time. As rightly contended by Mr. Arun Jaitley at the time when the
writ petition came to be filed before the High Court, as the High Court had
noted in the above extract, the booking for only 870 flats but later it gets
increased and today, that figure has swollen to 2,570.
G. Ramaswamy admits there are agreements entered into even after the order of 29.1.91
as evidenced by the state- ment in sub-paragraph (k) of the additional
affidavit extracted above. A curious argument was put forth that by mere
entering into agreement no interest is created in the immovable property. Of
course, this stems from Section 54 of the Transfer of Property Act. But, does
not the agreement holder have a right to get another document, namely the sale
deed? Equally, does he not have a right to enforce the agreement and seek
specific performance thereof? It is preposterous came forward to speculative
purchase the property and their right is only to refund as per the terms of the
agreement. For a moment, we are not on the nature of rights of the unintending
purchasers. The question is whether the said clause (iv) of the order dated
29.1.91 has been flouted? This is of a case of a stray act but deliberate
repetitive acts by making hard bargains by dubious methods. It is fallacious to
contend that because of legal opinion the contemners thought of entering into
such agreements, would not amount to inducting any person in the builidng or
would not amount to creation of any right in favour of any third party. This is
an intentional act to cheat the public with with an evil design. As on
29.1.1991 the construction on the plot has barely commenced and only a part of
the basement had been done. No building was in existence. To preclude the
answering respondent from in any manner giving away physicla possession of either
the plot or the proposed building (yet to come), the order dated 29.1.1991 was
is submitted that the order passed by this Court dated 29.1.1991 was an order
restraint against the deponent not to induct any personnel in the building to
create any right in favour of any third party in meantime. It is submitted that
the purpose of this injunction was to ensure that the deponent did not alienate
the building in favour of a third person to relieve himself from the liability
to make payment of the dues and vanish from the scene.
The above statement in the affida- 405 vit of the contemner No. 1, in our
considered opinion, is a clear attempt to circumvent the order.
is difficult to appreciate as to how the contemners could contend that they
were lulled into the belief that they could enter into the agreements as
otherwise the DDA would have moved the court by way of contempt proceedings.
is rather strange that as late as 25.11.92 the following letters should be
written by the contemners:
Anjana Khosla, 602, Hemkunnt Tower, 6, Rajendra Place, New Delhi.
Madam, We are pleased to handover you vacant peaceful physical possession of
shops No. 3 and 4, measuring super area Jhandewalan Extension, New Delhi.
assure you that the aforesaid shops No. 3 and 4 are free from all kinds of sales,
encumbrances, disputes, litigations, stays and orders and you are the only
rightful owner of aforesaid shops No. 3 and 4.
faithfully, For and on behalf of Skipper Construction Co. Pvt. Ltd.
(Director)" Emphasis supplied) Mrs. Anjana Khosla Date 25.11.92 602, Hemkunt
Tower 6, Rajendra Place, NEW DELHI Respected Madam.
please to hand over you vacant peaceful physical possession of shops 3 and 4,
measuring super area Jhandewalan Extension, New Delhi against total payment of
Rs.19,12,163/made by you to us as under:
Mode of payment Amount 07.08.87 cash 1,32,000.00 25.11.92 cash order No.04 165
drawn on Punjab National Bank, Rajendra Place, New Delhi being the full and
final payment 17,80,163.00 (Rupees Nineteen Lac Twelve Thousand One Hundred and
Sixty Three) 19,12,163.00 We assure you that the aforesaid shops Nos 3 and 4
are free from all kinds of sales, encumbrances, disputes, litigations, stays,
and orders and you are the only rightful owner of aforesaid shops Nos 3 and 4.
you, For and behalf of Skipper Construction Co. Pvt Ltd s/d (Director)
(Emphasis Supplied) 62.However, this is sought to be over by saying Contemner
No. I was not responsible but his son did it. This argument has to be stated to
be rejected. The plea to support six other similar agreements, with Khosla
family, as if entered into by mistake, cannot hold water.
When our order dated 29.1.91 is clear and unambiguous, to support these
agreements on the so called "collective 406 contemporaneous understanding
of both the parties", is mischievous. Thus, we have no doubt in our mind
that there is a wilful disobedience of our order dated 29.1.91.
considering whether the action of the contemners amounted to contempt of court
we take into account the entire course of conduct of the contemners. As our
order dated 25.1.95 would disclose, the contemners have indulged in judicial
adventurism by raiding one court or the other.
of such raids is a clear abuse of process of court calculated to obstruct the
due course of judicial proceeding and the administration of justice. Thus, we
conclude that the contemners are guilty of contempt of court. No doubt, the contemners
have tended apology. This apology is coming forth after sensing that the adventures
have turned out to be misadventures, realising that the contemners have ended
up in a cul-de-sac. An apology is not a weapon of defence forged to purge the
guilt of the offences nor is it intended to operate as a universal panacea. It
is intended to be evidence of real contritenses, the manly consciousness of a
wrong done, of an injury inflicted, and the earnest desire to make such
reparation as lies in the wrong- doer's power." We do not find the apology
to be so in this case. The con- duct of contemners is highly reprehensive. The
question now is what sentence we should impose on the contemners. Here, it is
necessary to bear in mind that the second respondent is the wife of the first
respondent. She does not seem to have played any active role in all these
transactions and events. As an Indian wife, dutiful and obedient, she seems to
have only followed the dictations and desires of her husband. In the process
she has done no more than lending her name both as a Director to the Skipper as
well as to the various acts done by him in the name of the company. It will be
unrealistic to ignore this fact against our social background. We must
therefore take a pragmatic view of the matter and distinguish her case from
that of her husband as far as the punishment to be imposed on them is
distinction will in no way minimise the gravity of the contempt that she has
therefore, invoke our power under Article 129 read with Article 142 of the
Constitution and order as follows:
contemner- respondent No. 1, Tejwant Singh to undergo simple imprisonment for
six months and to pay a fine of Rs.50,000/-(Rupees fifty thousand only.) We
further sentence contemner respondent No.2, Surinder Kaur to undergo simple
imprisonment for a period of one month and to pay a fine of 50,0001- (Rupees
fifty Thousand only) In default of payment of fine the contemners shall further
undergo, simple imprisonment for one month. The payment of fine shall be made
within one month from today.
All the properties and the bank accounts standing in the names of the contemners
and the Directors of M/S Skipper Construction Co. (Pvt.) Ltd, and their wives,
sons and unmarried daughters will stand attached.
Before parting with this case, we may add: Judiciary is the bed rock and hand
maid of orderly life and civilised society. If the people would lose faith in
justice imparted by the highest court of the Iand woe to be to orderly life.
The fragment of 407 civilised society would get broken up and crumble down.
the request of Shri G. Ramaswamy, the learned counsel appearing for the contemners,
we defer the sentence of imprisonment imposed on both the contemners subject to
the conditions and till the time stated below:- (1)The contemners shall furnish
bank guarantee in favour of the Registrar General of this Court in the amount
of Rs. 11 crores (Rupees eleven crores only) on or before 31st March, 1995. The
granite will of a nationalised bank or any foreign bank operating in India. The bank guarantee will be given
for a period of one year from the date of furnishing the bank guarantee.
contemners shall deposit the entire amount of Rs. 11 crores by a bank Draft in
the Registry of this Court on or before 30th November, 1995. If they fail to do so, the bank
guarantee will become encashable and will be encashed forthwith after 30th November, 1995, (3 ) If the contemners fail to
give the bank guarantee by 31st March, 1995
as aforesaid, the sentence of imprisonment will become enforceable at once.
application for extension of time either to furnish the bank guarantee or to
make the payment as aforesaid, will be entertained by this Court.
contemners shall not leave the country without the express permission of this
of properties given by the contemners is taken on record. The contemners will
also file a list of properties held by their sons and unmarried daughters
within one week from to-day.
and when any property that is attached under this Order is sought to be alienated
or encumbered to raise money to pay the liability of Rs. 11 crores stated
above, the contemners will be at liberty to approach the Court for permission
to do so.
attachment of the properties and the bank accounts shall stand raised on the contemners
furnishing the bank guarantee as aforesaid.
order with regard to the disbursal of the amount deposited will be passed after
the amounts are deposited as aforesaid.
The contempt petition is ordered in the above terms.