Willful disobedience by the contemnor undermining the dignity and authority of the Courts and outraging the majesty of law shall be punishable in the court of law: High Court of New Delhi.
Willful disobedience to any judgment, or other process of a court, or willful breach of undertaking given to the court, the contempt court shall take note of such violation that needs to be punished. A contempt petition can be filed under the Contempt of the courts Act 1971 and alleging the non-compliance of the respondent to order passed by the competent courts. The judgement passed by the division bench of HON’BLE JUSTICE VIPIN SANGHI & HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE JASMEET SINGH in SONALI VATIA VS ABHIVANSH NARANG (CONT.CAS(C) 429/2021) dealt with the issue mentioned above.
The parties were married under Hindu customs. The respondent filed a divorce petition under section 13(1) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. The petitioner filed for interim maintenance. The Hon’ble Family Court directed the respondent to pay a monthly maintenance and litigation expenses to the petitioner. Aggrieved by the order the respondent filed an application to seek stay of the aforesaid order which was later withdrawn by him, the present court issued a notice stating the respondent to comply with the directions of family court but the respondent failed to do so stating incapability to the pay the maintenance amount which resulted in the filling of the this petition for contempt.
The learned counsel for the petitioner highlighted the discrepancies in the compliance affidavit filed by the respondent and stated that the respondent is sole proprietor of a company with high turnover but according to the bank statement after the dispute arose the deposit amount stated decreasing from lakhs to some thousands also the respondent hasn’t submitted statements of all his bank accounts, he has all sources to pay the maintenance nut failed to do so “by willful deliberate disobedience of the said order – leading to civil contempt.”
Further the learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the respondent has no means to comply with the order of Family Court and there is no question of civil contempt.
The division bench of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi took note of the Supreme Court Judgement in Rama Narang v. Ramesh Narang & Ors , (2006) 11 SCC 114, which stated that “it would neither be in consonance with the statute nor judicial authority or principle or logic to draw any distinction between the willful violation of the terms of a consent decree and a decree passed on adjudication.”
The hon’ble Court perused the facts and arguments presented in the present case and opined that “the present is not a case of mere inability on the part of the respondent in complying with the order passed by the Court respondent has obstinately refused to comply with the said orders on completely false premise of financial inability which satisfies the elements of section 2(b) of Contempt of Court therefore a fine of 2000 was imposed along with a term of 3 months imprisonment, however if the respondent pays the full amount of arrear within two weeks and exhibits an apology we shall consider recalling the punishment.”
Judgement reviewed by – Pratikshya Pattnaik