Kumar & Ors Vs. Union of India & Ors  INSC 78 (18 March 1988)
Rangnath Misra Rangnath Dutt, M.M. (J)
1988 SCR (3) 280 1988 SCC (3) 603 JT 1988 (1) 591 1988 SCALE (1)538
of Courts Act, 1971: Sections 2 and 12- obedience to Court orders-Necessity
for-on failure-Rod of justice to descend down to punish-Growing conduct of
parties and public officers, in particular, of ignoring Court
and Procedure: orders of Court-Everyone to render due obedience-Failure should
Supreme Court issued certain directions in respect of petitioner No. 9
regarding accommodation and reinstatement in service in a writ petition filed
on behalf of forty petitioners, working in Pension Paying officer, Pokhara, in Nepal, praying for directions to the
Union of India, regarding their permanency and other benefits applicable to
similar Union Government employees.
petition for contempt, it was alleged that these directions were not implemented,
and that consequent to the filing of the writ petition, the authorities,
especially local officers, were ill-treating the Petitioners.
notice being issued, affidavit on behalf of respondents Nos. 1 to 3 and 5 were
filed tendering unconditional apology, and explaining their positions regarding
the implementation of the Court's orders.
No. 6, who was the officer-ln-charge of the Pension Paying officer and who was
responsible for the implementation of the Court's orders, also tendered an
unconditional apology and stated, in his affidavit, that petitioner No. 9 was
dispossessed of the residential accommodation on 14th August, 1987, by which
time the Court's orders of 7th August, 1987 had not been received by him, and
the accommodation had already been given to another person, that petitioner No.
9 was later restored to service and given possession of similar accommodation
and that the rent paid by the petitioner for the private accommodation will be
paid out of Government account, and requested for condonation 281 of delay in
implementing the orders of this Court.
of the Petition, ^
This Court records it serious concern and disapproval of the growing conduct of
parties and public officers, in particular, of ignoring the directions of the
Court and the multiplying instances of confrontation. [285F] The Court,
including the apex one is a part of the State and is a built-in mechanism of
the Constitution to administer justice in accordance with law. For discharging
that duty, the Court has got to adopt an attitude of critical assessment of
situations connected with litigation brought before it for adjudication. The
manner of functioning of the Court in accord with the Rule of Law has to be
dispassionate, objective and analytical. The Judges who preside over these
courts do not act with a sense of superiority; nor do they look down upon
others in the community. [285F-G] In order that the system may efficiently work
and the purpose for which the courts are established is duly served, it is
necessary that everyone within the framework of the Rule of Law must accept the
system, render due obedience to orders made and in the event of failure of
compliance, the rod of justice must descend down to punish. Everyone within the
system must realise this situation and should not unnecessarily get into a
confrontation. [285H; 286A-B] In the instant case, there is some material which
if probed into further, might have established that respondent No. 6 had notice
of the order of this Court before physical dispossession of the petitioner was
effected. There is allegation of adoption of an attitude of resentment by
respondent No. 6 or for the matter of that the local officers, when the writ
petition was filed in this Court.
backdrop could supply the motive for the delay in complying with the directions
of this Court. It is, however, not considered expedient to probe further into
the matter on account of the fact that there has been compliance and each of
the respondents has tendered unqualified apology which is accepted and the
contempt notice is discharged. [285D-E; 286B]
JURISDICTION: Contempt Petition (Civil) No. 27860 of 1987 In Writ Petition
(Civil) No. 591 of 1987.
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 591 of 1987.
(Under Article 32 of the Constitution of India).
Kalra for the Petitioners.
Solicitor General, A.K. Ganguli, Ms. A. Subhashini, P. Parmeshwaran and B. Parthasarthi
for the Respondents.
following order of the Court was delivered:
O R D
application under Article 32 of the Constitution being Writ Petition No. 591 of
1987 has been filed in this Court on behalf of 40 employees working in the
Pension Paying office, Pokhara in Nepal asking for a direction to the Union of
India to make the services of the petitioners permanent and for further
directions in the matter of payment of allowances and other material benefits
as payable to similar employees under the Union Government. Notice was ordered
on the application on 14th
July, 1987, and two
weeks' time was allowed to the respondents for filing their counter affidavit.
On 3rd August, 1987, the court directed as follows:
weeks are allowed to the respondents for filing a counter affidavit. No further
time will be allowed. One week thereafter is allowed for filing rejoiner. Put
up this matter after three weeks. Meanwhile, status quo as on today shall be
maintained." (underlining is ours).
On 7th August, 1987, the Court made the following
notice returnable on August
Parathasarathy accepts the notice for Union of India.
is directed to file counter affidavit within one week from today.
meanwhile petitioner No. 9 will not be evicted from the quarter now occupied by
him. " Again on 14th
August, 1987, the
Court further directed:
" .... Petitioner No.9 will be put back in possession of the government
quarter if he has already been evicted . " Ultimately on 11th September, 1987, a three-Judge Bench of this Court
No. 9 will be reinstated in service and he will also have to be put in
possession of his quarter forth-with." On the allegation that the
directions of this Court in regard to petitioner No. 9 were not implemented,
the present contempt proceeding has been initiated on behalf of the
have alleged that with the filing of the writ petition, the treatment provided
to the petitioners by the establishment has undergone a change and those of the
respondents who have local base in Nepal have started ill- treating the petitioners. Several allegations have
been made in support of the aforesaid plea. After notice was issued on this
petition, the different respondents have filed separate affidavits in return.
Indian Embassy for Nepal is located at Kathmandu.
Pension Paying office is maintained at some distance at a place called Pokhara.
It is the common case of the parties that the necessity to maintain such an
office is linked up with the historical fact that several inhabitants of Nepal worked in the Indian Army under the
Gorkha Regiment. Mainly for their convenience this extra territorial
establishment is being maintained. Some of the petitioners are India-based
while others are residents of Nepal. The
establishment at Pokhara is under the direct control of an officer attached to
the Indian Embassy styled as officer-in-Charge, Indian Embassy, Pension Paying
office, Pokhara. The Ambassador of the Indian Embassy at Kathmandu, being the head of Indian
Government establishments in Nepal, has
also supervisory jurisdiction over the Pay office. Respondent No. S, the
Military and Air Attache of the Indian Embassy is the link between the Embassy
establishment at Kathmandu and the said Officer-in -Charge at Pokhara.
Respondent No. 3 is the Controller of Defence Accounts who inter alia oversees
the disbursement of the pension of the ex-Army personnel.
No. 1 is the Union of India through its Defence Secretary and respondent No. 2
is the Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs. Admittedly both these
respondents 284 are based in Delhi and have
been impleaded being in overall charge of their establishments.
S.K. Bhatnagar, Defence Secretary, in his affidavit has taken the stand that he
was not personally impleaded in the writ petition. Only when he was served with
notice in the contempt matter he came to know about Court's directions and realised
the full implication of the situation when he had a conference with his senior
counsel on December 6,
1987. Immediate action
was taken to ensure appropriate compliance. Shri K.P.S. Menon, Foreign
Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs has also taken the plea that he
was not personally impleaded as a party in the writ petition and came to know
about the Court's order at the same conference with senior counsel on December 6, 1987, and ensured immediate compliance
with Court's directions. Both these Secretaries to the Government have tendered
unconditional apology. The third respondent is the Controller of Defence
Accounts, Central Command, Meerut. He has
taken the stand that petitioner No. 9, Shri C.N. Dubey, is not an employee of
the establishment of the Controller of Defence Accounts at Meerut nor is he an employee under his
administrative control. According to him, he has no concern with any executive
or administrative matter relating to the Pension Paying office at Pokhara.
Respondent No. 4, the Ambassador, was not subjected to the contempt
No. 5 is the Military and Air Attache of the Indian Embassy at Kathmandu and is in charge of the general
administration of the military wing. Apart from offering unconditional apology,
he has indicated that Dubey has been restored to service and he has been
provided with residential accommodation and for the period he was out of
possession of the official residence, rent by way of compensation has already
been ordered to be paid to him.
clear from the orders made by this Court and the facts appearing on the record
that the responsibility for implementation of the Court's orders in regard to
petitioner No. 9 squarely rested with respondent No. 6, the officer-in- Charge
of the Pension Paying office. He, in his affidavit, has stated that Dubey was
dispossessed from his residential accommodation on 14th August, 1987, and by then the order of this Court dated 7th August, 1987 had not been received by him. That
accommodation was given to one Krishna Bahadur.
has been restored to service, given possession of a similar accommodation as
the one from which he was displaced and with a view to giving effect to the
spirit of the order of this Court, the rent which Dubey had paid for private
accommodation has been decided to 285 be borne out of Government account. His
affidavit explains the delay in implementation thus: A "There has been
delay in implementation of the orders of this Hon'ble Court due to delay in communication, administrative bottlenecks
and for security reasons. It is further stated that we had no intention to
flout or disobey the orders of this Hon'ble Court but for the reasons beyond our control, the same could not
be implemented notwithstanding the fact that we had all intentions to implement
the same in the right earnest. The orders have since been implemented, the
petitioner has since been reinstated and also given accommodation. The delay in
implementing the same may kindly be condoned and we be excused for such delay
for which we have tendered an unconditional apology at the outset of this
affidavit." There is some material which, if probed into further, might
have established that respondent No. 6 had the notice of the order of this
Court before physical dispossession of Dubey was effected. As already noticed,
there is allegation of adoption of an attitude of resentment by respondent No.
6 or for the matter of that the local officers, when the writ petition was
filed in this Court. That backdrop, as contended by counsel for the
petitioners, perhaps could be taken to supply the motive for the delay in
complying with the directions of this Court. We have not considered it
expedient to probe into the matter further on account of the fact that there
has been compliance and each of the respondents has tendered unqualified
would part with the matter by recording our serious concern and disapproval of
the growing conduct of parties and public officers in particular of ignoring
the directions of the Courts and the multiplying instances of confrontation.
The Court, including the apex one, is a part of the State and is a built-in
mechanism of the Constitution to administer justice in accordance with law. For
discharging that duty, the Court has got to adopt an attitude of critical
assessment of situations connected with litigation brought before it for
adjudication. The manner of functioning of the Court in accord with the Rule of
Law has to be dispassionate, objective and analytical. The Judges who preside
over these courts do not act with a sense of superiority; nor do they look down
upon others in the community. In order that the system may efficiently work and
the purpose for which the courts are established is duly served, it is
necessary that everyone within the framework of the 286 Rule of Law must accept
the system, render due obedience to orders made and in the event of failure of
compliance, the rod of justice must descend down to punish. We hope and trust
that everyone within the system realises this situation and does not
unnecessarily get into a confrontation.
apologies tendered by the respondents are accepted and the contempt notice is
discharged. Respondent No. 6 is directed to pay to the petitioners the costs of
the proceedings which are assessed at Rs.2,000 within one month.