State of Bihar & Ors Vs.
Rajendra Singh And Anr  Insc 477 (24 August 2004)
Arijit Pasayat & D.M.
ARIJIT PASAYAT, J The State of Bihar is in appeal against the order of the
learned Single Judge who by the same held that there was violation of the
Without indicating as to what was the consequence of such violation, it
directed re-consideration of the order purported to have been passed in
compliance with the direction of the High Court. According to the learned
counsel for the appellant-State there was no violation of the High Court's
order and as such the finding recorded and the direction for re-consideration
are not sustainable in law.
Per contra, learned counsel for the respondent, who was the applicant before
the High Court, for initiation of contempt proceedings submitted that learned
Single Judge was justified in holding that there was violation of the Court's
order but having said so, should not have directed for re- consideration and on
the other hand should have punished the contemnor.
While dealing with an application for contempt, the Court is really
concerned with the question whether the earlier decision, which has received
its finality, had been complied with or not. It would not be permissible for a
Court to examine the correctness of the earlier decision which had not been
assailed and to take the view different than what was taken in the earlier
decision. A similar view was taken in K.G. Derasari and Anr. V. Union of India
and Ors. (2001 (10) SCC 496). The Court exercising contempt jurisdiction is
primarily concerned with the question of contumacious conduct of the party who
is alleged to have committed default in complying with the directions in the
judgment or order. If there was no ambiguity or indefiniteness in the order, it
is for the concerned party to approach the higher Court if according to him the
same is not legally tenable. Such a question has necessarily to be agitated
before the higher Court. The Court exercising contempt jurisdiction cannot take
upon itself power to decide the original proceedings in a manner not dealt with
by the Court passing the judgment or order. Though strong reliance was placed
by learned counsel for the State of Bihar on a three-Judge Bench decision in Niaz
Mohammad and Ors. v. State of Haryana and Ors. (1994 (6) SCC 352), we find that
the same has no application to the facts of the present case. In that case the
question arose about the impossibility to obey the order. If that was the stand
of the State, the least it could have done was to assail correctness of the
judgment before the higher Court. State took diametrically opposite stands
before this Court. One was that there was no specific direction to do anything
in particular and, second was what was required to be done has been done. If
what was to be done has been done, it cannot certainly be said that there was
impossibility to carry out the orders. In any event, the High Court has not
recorded a finding that the direction given earlier was impossible to be
carried out or that the direction given has been complied with.
On the question of impossibility to carry out the direction, the views
expressed in T.R. Dhananjaya v. J. Vasudevan (1995 (5) SCC 619) need to be
noted. It was held that when the claim inter se had been adjudicated and had
attained finality, it is not open to the respondent to go behind the orders and
truncate the effect thereof by hovering over the rules to get round the result,
to legitimize legal alibi to circumvent the order passed by a Court.
In Mohd. Iqbal Khanday v. Abdul Majid Rather (AIR 1994 SC 2252), it was held
that if a party is aggrieved by the order, he should take prompt steps to
invoke appellate proceedings and cannot ignore the order and plead about the
difficulties of implementation at the time contempt proceedings are initiated.
If any party concerned is aggrieved by the order which in its opinion is
wrong or against rules or its implementation is neither practicable nor
feasible, it should always either approach to the Court that passed the order
or invoke jurisdiction of the Appellate Court. Rightness or wrongness of the
order cannot be urged in contempt proceedings. Right or wrong the order has to
be obeyed. Flouting an order of the Court would render the party liable for
contempt. While dealing with an application for contempt the Court cannot
traverse beyond the order, non-compliance of which is alleged.
In other words, it cannot say what should not have been done or what should
have been done. It cannot traverse beyond the order. It cannot test correctness
or otherwise of the order or give additional direction or delete any direction.
That would be exercising review jurisdiction while dealing with an application
for initiation of contempt proceedings. The same would be impermissible and
In a given case, even if ultimately the interim order is vacated or relief
in the main proceeding is not granted to a party, the other side cannot take
that as a ground for dis-obedience of any interim order passed by the Court.
After having arrived at a conclusion that there was violation of the Court's
order, the Court should have focused its attention to the issue as to what
further was done consequentially. Instead it went on to give further directions
for re-consideration in the line of views expressed by it. That is clearly
impermissible. In some cases Court may grant opportunity to the contemnors to
purge the contempt. This is not a case of that nature. In fact learned Single
Judge has held on merits that the decision of the D.G. Board was not proper and
therefore remitted the matter for reconsideration.
In above view of the matter, the order of the High Court is set aside and
the matter is remitted for fresh consideration. It shall deal with the
application in its proper perspective in accordance with law afresh. We make it
clear that we have not expressed any opinion regarding acceptability or
otherwise of the application for initiation of contempt proceedings.
Appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent with no orders as to costs.