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Mere disobedience or breach of the Court’s order by the person is not sufficient to constitute civil contempt.: Manipur High Court

In order to exercise its power to punish the contemnor the Court has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the contemnor has willfully, deliberately and intentionally violated the Court’s order as upheld by the High Court of Manipur through the learned bench led by Hon’ble Mr. Justice MV Muralidaran in the case of Shri Hawaibam Pradeep Kumar Singh v. Shri Akoijam Sanatomba Singh and Ors. (MC(Cont.Cas(C)) No. 101 of 2021 [Ref:- Cont.Cas(C) No. 58 of 2021])

The brief facts of the case are that this Miscellaneous Case has been filed by the applicant/contemnor seeking to close the Contempt Case (C) No.58 of 2021 since the order dated 22.04.2021 passed in 2016 and 2018 has been complied with. The applicant herein is the third respondent in the Contempt Case No.58 of 2021.

Mr. Romesh, the learned counsel for the applicant submitted that by the common order dated 22.4.2021, this Court disposed by directing the Thoubal Municipal Council to consider the case of the respondents herein for allotment of shops in the 15 lying vacant shops in the New Thoubal Market by giving personal opportunity to the respondents without affecting the allotment of the respondents 5 to 8 in W.P.(C) No.415 of 2018 and the said exercise was directed to be completed within a period of eight weeks from the date of the receipt of the copy of the order. The order of this Court dated 22.4.2021 has not been complied with, Contempt Case No.58 of 2021 came to be filed by the respondents on 05.7.2021. He would submit that pursuant to the direction of this Court dated 22.4.2021, the applicant has issued an order dated 8.7.2021 and that challenging the order dated 8.7.2021, W.P.(C) No.493 of 2021 came to be filed on 6.8.2021 by the respondents. The learned counsel submitted that since the order of this Court dated 22.4.2021 has been duly complied with by the applicant, the Contempt Case No.58 of 2021 is to be closed.

Per contra, Mr. Juno Rahman, the learned counsel for the respondents/writ petitioners submitted that the contempt petition cannot be closed on the ground that the respondents have filed W.P.(C) No.493 of 2021 challenging the order dated 8.7.2021 and that the action and conduct of the contemnors amounts to willful and deliberate violation of the common order dated 22.4.2021.

After the perusal of the facts and arguments by the respective parties, the Hon’ble Court held, “In the instant case, there is no proof to show that the contemnor has willfully, deliberately and intentionally violated the Court’s order. In fact, the applicant being the contemnor has passed the order on 8.7.2021. Though the original order is dated 22.4.2021 and eight weeks’ time has been granted to the contemnors to consider the claim of the respondents herein and the compliance order came to be passed only on 8.7.2021 beyond the eight weeks period, the short delay in passing the order dated 8.7.2021 cannot go against the applicant/contemnor. Since the order of this Court dated 22.4.2021 has been substantially complied with, the question of contempt will not lie. Therefore, this Court is of the view that the order dated 22.4.2021 has been duly complied with by the applicant and resultantly, Contempt Case No.58 of 2021 is liable to be closed as substantial compliance has taken place.”

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Judgment reviewed by Vandana Ragwani

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