Vs. Ramesh Yadav & ANR  INSC 469 (28 April 1997)
BHARUCHA, M. JAGANNADHA RAO
O R D
E R The following orders adequately explain the circumstances in which a suo moto
contempt notice was issued to Mrs. Sumita Kandpal, Principal Secretary of the
Medical Health, Family Welfare and Medical Education Department, Government of
dated 27th January,
for 2 weeks. The State of Uttar Pradesh
shall file an appropriate affidavit explaining how the impugned order came to
be passed and why the counsel was not appropriately instructed at that stage.
The Principal Secretary of the Medical Health and Medical Education Ministry
shall remain present in Court on the next date of hearing." (Emphasis supplied.)
Order dated 10th
27th January, 1997, this Court directed the Principal
Secretary of the Medical Health and Medical Education Ministry to remain
present in Court on the next date of hearing, the contempt petition having been
adjourned of two weeks.
learned counsel for the State, on being asked, tells us that the said Principal
Secretary is not present in Court. He States that she is in the U.S.A. He states that her programme to go
to the USA had been fixed as far back as July, 1996, that the order dated 27th,
January, 1997 was received in the office of the said officer on 7th February,
1997 when she was in Delhi and that she flew out of Delhi on 8th February,
counsel states that the said officer could not be contacted before she flew out
affidavit shall be filed by the concerned officer (s) who is supposed to have
attempted to contact the said officer (Mrs. Sumita Kandpal) at Delhi, stating
the day and time at which intimation of the fact of the said order was first
received in the office of Ms. Sumita Kandpal, the day and time (s) at which he
attempted to contact her and where.
shall decide whether or not to issue suo moto notice of contempt breach of the
order dated 27th
January, 1997, to Mrs.Sumita
Kandpal after we have perused the affidavit(s).
matter shall be listed on 3rd March, 1997,
by which time Mrs. Sumita Kandpal, it is stated, will be back in India. She shall be present in Court on
states that it shall be ensured that a copy of this order is served on Mrs. Sumita
Kandpal when she arrives in Delhi.
dated 3rd March, 1997:
27th January, 1997, the Principal Secretary of the
Medical Health and Medical Education Ministry of the State of U.P was ordered to remain present on the next date of
hearing. On 10th
February, 1997 which
was the next date of hearing, we were told that she had gone abroad, flying out
of Delhi on 8th February, 1997. We thereupon directed the matter to be listed today
ordering that she (Mrs. Sumita Kandpal) should be present in Court.
said officer is present, It is stated on her behalf by Mr. Sorabjee that she
had, before leaving Delhi on 8th February, 1997, filed and application of exempting her from personal
appearance and for fixing another date for her appearance. That application
was, apparently, never filed.
on being asked, stated that the said officer had left the country without
finding out whether the Court had passed an order exempting her from appearance
as required by the order dated 27th, January, 1997 and fixing another dated for
can be no doubt, in the circumstances, that the said officer, knowing that
there was an order of this court that required her presence, flew out of the
country before the date thereof and was, therefore, not present as directed.
therefore, do not, at this stage least, accept the apology tendered on behalf
of the said officer. We issue notice to her to show cause why suo moto
proceedings for contempt should not be taken against her." Mrs. Sumita Kandpal
has now filed an affidavit dated 4th April, 1997. She reiterates therein the unqualified apology tendered in
her earlier affidavit dated 27th February, 1997. She stated that on receiving the order of this Court dated 27th January, 1997, She ensured full and complete
compliance thereof on the next day. In view of her official programme to attend
a conference in the United States of America, which had already been finalised
she consulted the then Additional Advocate General, U.P., Shri G.K. Mehrotra.
She was advised by him that she could go to the United States "as the order of this Honourable Court has been
complied with and in view of the affidavit for exemption sworn on 6.2.97, as
per legal advice given. The deponent admits that there has been an error on her
part in not ascertaining from her counsel as to whether the affidavit of
exemption had been filed and presented before this Hon'ble Court with a prayer
for exemption and whether this Hon'ble Court has been pleased to pass and order
exempting the deponent from appearance on 10.2.1997. The deponent expresses her
deep regret and apology for this error.....The mistake on her part was on
account of legal advice she received and which she bona fide believed to be correct."
Her affidavit states that Mrs.. Kandpal is a senior IAS officer with an
excellent and clean service record.
counsel appearing for Mrs. Kandpal reiterated the unqualified apology contained
in her affidavit. He drew attention to the circumstances in Which Mrs. Kandpal
was not present in Court on 10th February, 1997. He submitted that the lapse was unintentional and due to erroneous
legal advice. He asked this Court magnanimously to accept the unqualified
apology Mrs. Kandpal had tendered.
assume that Mrs. Kandpal was advised that she could go to the United States and
not attend this Court on 10th February, 1997, in view of the fact that the
order in connection with which her attendance was required had been complied
with and in view of the affidavit for exemption that she had made, but Mrs. Kandpal,
as she herself states, is a senior IAS officer. A senior IAS officer should
know better than to presume that she need not obey the order of the Court
because the purpose for which her presence was required no longer survived or
that the exemption that she had sought would be given. It seems to us that Mrs.
Kandpal put the order requiring her presence in Court on 10th February, 1997, out of her mind in her keenness to
go abroad. It is only this which can explain the admitted fact that she did not
even bother to find out whether this Court had in fact exempted her from
against the patent dis-obedience of the order of this Court there are three
factors which we must take into account. First, had Mrs. Kandpal's exemption
application been filed and moved, there is little doubt that it would have been
granted. Secondly, to find Mrs. Kandpal guilty of contempt and punish her would
blight her future career.
Mrs. Kandpal has tendered an unqualified apology at the earliest.
these factors into account, we accept the unqualified apology tendered by Mrs. Kandpal.
At the same time, we sternly caution her to be more heedful of judicial orders
contempt notice issued to Mrs. Kandpal is discharged.