The Circuit Bench at Port Blair of the Calcutta High Court directed immediate suspension of Keshav Chandra, the Chief Secretary of Andaman and Nicobar Administration, and a rigorous fine of Rs. 5 lakhs on the Lieutenant Governor, Andaman, and Nicobar Islands.

The Division Bench of Justice Rajasekhar Mantha and Justice Bibhas Ranjan De found their conduct to be contumacious and a mockery of its jurisdiction under Article 215 of the Constitution of India

Senior Advocate Vikramjit Banerjee appeared for the contemnors and Advocate Gopala Binnu Kumar appeared for the Applicants.

In a case involving contempt of court, counsel for the contemnors presented an affidavit of compliance filed by S. Thej Bahadur, the Chief Engineer of APWD, A & N Administration. However, the contemnors, Admiral D.K. Joshi (Lieutenant Governor, Andaman and Nicobar Islands) and Keshav Chandra (Chief Secretary, Andaman and Nicobar Administration), did not submit any affidavit.

The contemnors failed to challenge the specific and clear directions issued in the order dated December 19, 2022.

“The contemnors have not even bothered to file any affidavit. This conduct is ex facie contumacious and has reduced the contempt jurisdiction of a Division Bench of this Court under Article 215 of the Constitution of India to a mockery.” the Bench observed.

The Court also noted that the purported affidavit of compliance did not address the framing of any scheme or the distinction drawn between DRMs engaged against sanctioned posts and those not engaged against any sanctioned post.

Senior Advocate for contemnors claimed that he had a conference with the administration, and they agreed to withdraw the requirement of signing the undertaking.

The Court, however, found the contemnors' conduct to be flagrant and reprehensible, leading to the immediate suspension of Keshav Chandra, the Chief Secretary. The next senior officer in the administration was tasked with assuming the Chief Secretary's functions.

For Admiral D.K. Joshi's contumacious conduct, the Court directed him to deposit Rs. 5,00,000/- with the Registrar of the Port Blair Bench of the High Court at Calcutta within seven days.

The Court adjourned the matter and scheduled another hearing on August 17, 2023.

Cause Title: Andaman Sarvajanik Nirman Vibagh Mazdoor Sangh & Anr. v. Admiral D.K. Joshi, Lieutenant Governor, Andaman & Nicobar Islands & Anr.

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