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Proceedings under Contempt of Courts Act is to be exercised for maintenance of court’s dignity and majesty of law: Supreme Court of India.

Discretion given to the court in dealing with the proceedings under Contempt of Courts Act is to be exercised for maintenance of court’s dignity and majesty of law and further an aggrieved party has no right to insist that court should exercise such jurisdiction, in as much as contempt is between contemner and the court. This was observed by Hon’ble R. Subhash Reddy, J in the matter of M/s. Soorajmull Nagarmull vs. Sri Brijesh Mehrotra & Ors. – [C.P(C). Nos.726-728 of 2017].

In this case, there are contempt petitions filed under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Article 129 of the Constitution of India and Rule 3(C) of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings for Contempt of the Supreme Court, 1975, alleging that   respondents have willfully and deliberately violated directions issued by the Supreme Court in order dated 17.08.2015, 29.08.2016 and 05.01.2017 passed in Civil Appeal Nos.10394­10396 of 2011 and in Contempt Petition(C)Nos.726­728 of 2015 & I.A.Nos.28­30 of 2016 in the said contempt petitions.

Brief facts of the case are that land belonging to the petitioner was acquired under provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (for short, ‘the Act’). Notification under Section 4(1) of the Act was issued at the first instance on 25.03.1981. Pursuant to the notification, possession of the land along with the structures was taken on 20.08.1981. Said land was subsequently declared as protected forest under Section 29 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927. A notification to that effect was issued under Indian Forest Act. As no award was passed pursuant to the notification issued under Section 4(1) of the Act, a fresh notification under Section 4(1) of the Act was issued on 24.05.1995 and there was also further notification to the same effect on 17.08.1996.

It is the contention of the learned senior counsels for the petitioner that the respondents have violated deliberately and willfully, the   series   of   directions   issued   by   the Supreme Court. It was submitted that first land was acquired by invoking urgency clause, and despite directions for payment of compensation by following the provisions under Section 40 of the 2013 Act, respondents have passed the award without adhering to Section 40 of the 2013 Act and by treating the land as agricultural forest land. It is the case of the petitioner that land acquired was used for construction of office and residential buildings, and despite the same, contrary to various directions issued by this Court, land is treated as agricultural forest land, a concept unknown to law.  It is submitted   that   when the applications were filed for correction of the order dated 29.08.2016, the said applications were also dismissed vide order and benefits were not granted as per Section 40 of the 2013 Act.

Counter affidavit is filed on behalf of the respondents. While denying various allegations made by the petitioner, it is the case of the respondents that in compliance of the directions issued by the SC a fresh notification was issued which was also declared as lapsed by this Court by recording the statement made on behalf of the State that a fresh notification would be issued.  In the said order SC has clarified that the court has not expressed any opinion on the nature of the land etc. and left open all the issues. It is the case of the respondents that if the petitioner is aggrieved by the determination of compensation, it is always open for the petitioner to avail remedy under Section 64 of the 2013 Act. Without availing such remedy under guise of contempt, petitioner is trying to enlarge the scope of directions issued by this Court.

Supreme court after perusing the facts and arguments presented, held that – “The respondents have not invoked urgency clause at all. Without invoking urgency clause, the question of extending the benefits as per Section 40 of the 2013 Act will not arise. It is further observed that discretion given to the court in dealing with the proceedings under Contempt of Courts Act is to be exercised for maintenance of court’s dignity and majesty of law and further an aggrieved party has no right to insist that court should exercise such jurisdiction, in as much as contempt is between contemner and the court. Section 64 of the 2013 Act, makes it clear that any person interested, who has not accepted the award, by written application to the Collector may seek reference to the competent authority constituted under Section 66 of the 2013 Act. Even after adjudication made by such authority on reference, there is a further remedy available under Section 74 to the High Court.  In that view of the matter while it is open for the petitioner to pursue remedies available in law, we do not find any contempt as alleged by the respondents.”

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Judgement reviewed by Mehvish Alam

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