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Report No. 274

A. Judgment / Order - if capable of different interpretations

6.5 A non-compliance of an order, which can be interpreted in more than one way, raising a variety of consequences, has been held not to be a willful disobedience so as to make a case of contempt allowing serious consequences including imposition of punishment (vide Dinesh Kumar Gupta v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd. & Ors., (2010) 12 SCC 770) The Supreme Court in the said case, emphasizing on the element of willfulness in civil contempt, also observed that even though there may be disobedience, yet if the same does not reflect that it has been conscious and willful, a case for contempt cannot be held to have been made out.

6.6 In Mrityunjoy Das & Anr. v. Sayed Hasibur Rahaman & Ors., AIR 2001 SC 1293, the Court according the benefit of doubt to the alleged contemnor in this case, where the order was capable of two interpretations and one of which was adopted by the alleged contemnor, noted that "exercise of powers under the Contempt of Courts Act shall have to be rather cautious and use of it rather sparingly after addressing itself to the true effect of the contemptuous conduct".

Review of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 Back

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