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For punishment of contempt of court for disobedience of any judgment, decree, direction or writ, the court must be satisfied that such disobedience was wilful and intentional : Tripura High Court

The Tripura High Court in the case of Shri Subhojit Shil vs Shri Brijesh Pandey (Cont. Cas(C) 31/2022) upheld that for punishment of contempt of court for disobedience of any judgment, decree, direction or writ, the court must be satisfied that such disobedience was wilful and intentional. 

Facts of the case: By means of this contempt petition filed under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, the petitioner had alleged non compliance of the order rendered by the Division Bench in Writ Appeal. 

The petitioner was a son of one Smt. Gita Debnath who died in harness while she was working as an assistant teacher in the department of education, Government of Tripura. She left behind the petitioner who is her elder son, her husband and another son. When she died, petitioner was aged 16 years 10 months and 22 days as per his birth certificate. The petitioner’s father was over aged and therefore, not eligible for appointment in any case. He was eligible to be appointed to a class-III or class-IV post in terms of his educational qualification. Therefore, he applied for a job on compassionate grounds. Respondents turned down his application. He approached court by filing a Writ Petition. The main ground for rejection of his petition was that petitioner was under age on the date of the death of his mother. The Die- in-Harness scheme prescribed that the minimum age of the dependent of the Government servant shall not be less than 17 years for being eligible for employment on compassionate ground under the scheme. 

The court held that the petitioner’s age was only about 6 weeks short of the minimum age. It was the fit case where the government should be asked to exercise the power of relaxation provided under the scheme. It directed the state to consider the petitioner’s application for compassionate appointment within 4 weeks from 13.12.2021 which expired on 10.01.2022. The state did not comply with the said order within time. This is a clear case of contempt.

Judgment:  The court held that it was true that the state respondents did not comply with the order within the time frame. But it was not oblivious of the fact that there are certain essential formalities which have to be maintained for issuing appointments to a person in government service. 

Civil contempt must be wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court. Before a contemnor is punished for non-compliance of the direction of a court the court must not only be satisfied about the disobedience of any judgment, decree, direction or writ but should also be satisfied that such disobedience was wilful and intentional. If from the circumstances of a particular case, brought to the notice of the court, the court is satisfied that although there has been a disobedience but such disobedience is the result of some compelling circumstances under which it was not possible for the contemner to comply with the order, the court may not punish the alleged contemner.

The court was of the view that there was no willful and intentional disobedience on the part of the respondent contemners in complying with the direction of this court in the judgment aforesaid. 

JUDGMENT REVIEWED BY : SHUBHANGI CHAUDHARY

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