Necessary to comply with orders of court even without jurisdiction, non-compliance might lead to contempt proceedings: The High Court of Delhi

It is settled law that even orders passed by Court without jurisdiction have to be complied with and for violation of the same, Courts can proceed with contempt proceedings. The aforesaid has been laid down in the case of Tayabbhai M. Bagasarwalla & Anr. v. Hind Rubber Industries Pvt. Ltd. & Ors. (1997) 3 SCC 443 and has been sufficiently relied upon in the present case of Mr. Sanjeev Jai Narain Aeren & Anr. V. M/S Somani Worsted Limited [EFA(OS) (COMM) 5/2021 & CM APPLs. 12808-12809/2021] that was adjudicated by a two judge bench comprising Justice Manmohan and Justice Navin Chawla in the Delhi High Court on 1 June 2021.

The aggrieved is an appellant who has filed an appeal challenging the order dated 26th February, 2021 passed by the learned Single Judge in a contempt petition being CCP (O) 34/2020 in OMP (Enf.) (Comm.) No.74/2019. Appellant seeks directions to the executing Court to decide objections and especially objection with regard to Section 35 of the Indian Stamp Act before proceeding with the enforcement and contempt petition.it is also evident to know that an Arbitral Award dated 28th December 2015 was pronounced by the Sole Arbitrator for a sum of Rs.168,05,56,182/- on plain paper against the Appellant.

The arguments presented by the learned counsel on behalf of the appellant state that as the arbitral award is passed on a plain paper and requisite stamp duty was not paid at the time of passing of the award, therefore the award cannot be acted upon in view of the statutory bar contained in Section 35 of the Indian Stamp Act and thus the enforcement petition is not maintainable until the requisite stamp duty along with ten times penalty is deposited by the Decree Holder pursuant to the impounding of the award dated 28 December 2015. It was also highly emphasized by the counsel that since the decree/award was invalid, the executing court shall not have any jurisdiction to entertain any such execution or even proceed with such execution.

Considering the facts and the arguments presented, the verdict given by the judges stated that by the impugned order, the learned Single Judge has primarily issued notice in contempt petition and directed appellant to file replies to E.As. Furthermore, the rejection raised with regard to section 35 of the Indian Stamp Act has been rightly rejected based on the fact that “it is not necessary to examine whether the arbitral award is adequately stamped in these proceedings because as noticed above, the issue to be examined in this petition is limited to whether the Judgment Debtors have willfully violated the orders of this Court and are liable to be proceeded against for the same. The merits of the execution petition are thus not relevant insofar as this petition is concerned. It is well settled that the matter of contempt is one that relates to administration of justice. It is essentially between the contemnors and the court; the petitioner is only a realtor party…..” Hence, the present appeal and applications, being bereft of its merits were dismissed.

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