Prithawi Nath Ram Vs.
State of Jharkhand & Ors  Insc 476 (24 August 2004)
Arijit Pasayat & D.M.
Dharmadhikari With Ia Nos. 10-11 of 2004 Arijit Pasayat,
J Appellant filed an
application under Sections 11 and 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (in
short the 'Act') read with Article 215 of the Constitution of India, 1950 (in
short the 'Constitution').
The foundation of such application was alleged non-compliance of the
directions given by a learned Single Judge of the Patna High Court in CWJC 1120
of 1998 by order dated 30.3.1999.
A learned Single Judge of the said High Court, while dealing with the
application for initiation of contempt proceedings, has passed the impugned
judgment holding that it would not be proper to take any action for contempt.
Though learned Single Judge noticed that the scope of consideration while
dealing with an application for initiation of contempt proceedings was confined
to the question whether there was compliance with the order or not, yet
proceeded to examine the correctness of the order and called upon the parties
to satisfy him that the direction of the kind contained in the order dated
30.3.1999 could be issued. After an indepth analysis, he came to hold that the
directions could not have been given and therefore there was no scope for
taking any action for contempt.
Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the learned Single Judge
has not kept the correct parameters of law in view while dealing with the
application for contempt. In essence he has sat in judgment over the decision
rendered by another learned Single Judge. It was not open in the contempt
proceedings to examine whether the order, non-implementation of which was being
urged, is valid or not. That is beyond the scope of consideration.
In response, learned counsel for the State submitted that there can be no
straight jacket formula which can be applied in such matters. If the order was
not capable of being implemented, certainly it was open to the learned Single
Judge dealing with the application for initiation of contempt proceedings to
consider whether the order was legal or not.
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
indefensible. In that 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
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.
It is to be noted that after re-organisation of States, the dispute
presently pertains to the State of Jharkhand, which has been substituted in
place of original respondent, the State of Bihar.
Appeal is allowed to the aforesaid extent with no order as to costs.