The Andhra Pradesh High Court has sentenced two IAS officers and three government officials to undergo simple imprisonment of one month and imposed a fine of Rs. 1,000/- on them for Contempt of Court.

A Single Bench of Justice K. Manmadha Rao held, “… ample opportunity has been given to the respondents for compliance of the order, but simply they are dodging the matter. … the respondents/contemnors are sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of one (01) month each and to pay a fine of Rs.1,000/- (Rupees One thousand only) each, in default of payment of fine, they shall undergo simple imprisonment for a period of one (01) week. The respondents/Contemnors are directed to surrender before the Registrar (Judicial) High Court of Andhra Pradesh on or before 16.05.2023; on such surrender, the Registrar (Judicial), is directed to remand them to jail for a period of one (01) month.”

The Bench said that even though the respondents took so many adjournments for complying with the Court’s order, they have not complied with the same so far.

Advocate M. Pitchaiah appeared on behalf of the petitioners while Advocate M. Solomon Raju appeared on behalf of the respondents.

In this matter, a contempt case was filed under Section 10 to 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 to punish the respondents/contemnors for Contempt of Court for wilful and deliberate disobedience in not complying with the orders passed by the High Court dated August 1, 2022. The counsel for the petitioners contended before the Court that the petitioners submitted a representation with a request to implement the orders but the respondents did not take any action for regularization of the services of the petitioners.

On the other hand, the counsel appearing for the respondents argued that a writ appeal was pending against the orders of the High Court, and during the pendency of the said appeal, normally the Court would not initiate or adjudicate any contempt proceedings in which it is alleged that the order in the said appeal has not been complied with. It was further submitted that in view of the same, the respondents were not guilty of any wilful disobedience or negligence to implement the Court’s orders.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel noted, “It is settled law unless and until stay of the proceedings by the Division Bench in the appeal, this Court has to proceed further in the contempt proceedings. … The Scope of Contempt petition cannot be expanded for the purpose of adjudication of the issues on merits. The orders passed by the Courts alone are to be considered for the purpose of invoking provisions of the Contempt of the Courts Act. So in view of the above the order passed in the main writ petition No.19927 of 2020 is on contest and on merits of the case.”

The Court further observed that the acts of the respondents in not complying with the order of the Court amount to contempt of courts and that their conduct is such as would justify invocation of contempt jurisdiction of the Court.

“Not only have the contemnors unreasonably delayed and defaulted in compliance of the orders of this Court without explaining the cause for such default, or seeking extension of time for compliance; but they have also sought to avoid compliance of the order, even after taking benefit of the extended time period granted for compliance of the same”, said the Court.

The Court also noted that six weeks’ time was granted to the respondents to comply with the Court’s order in true spirit but simply they are dodging the matter.

“… though the respondents are called for personal appearance and the Court has expressed and directed to comply with the order itself, but they did not come forward to comply with the same. So, in view of the above circumstances, this Court decided to interfere in the contempt proceedings”, concluded the Court.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the contempt plea and sentenced the respondents.

Cause Title- B. Surendra v. Dwaraka Tiruala Rao

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