Consistent Disregard By PWD Officials In Compliance Of Court’s Direction Cannot Merit Anything Less Than A Sentence: Delhi HC
While considering a case of defiance by the PWD authorities in complying with the orders of the High Court as well as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for taking prohibitive measures to prevent the defacing of trees, the Delhi High Court sentenced the PWD officials under section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of four months and two months respectively, along with a fine of Rs. 2000/- each.
Finding that despite repeated directions and orders passed by the court and of the NGT, there has been a consistent disregard in compliance of the same, a Single Judge Bench of Justice Najmi Waziri observed that “Such recalcitrance to abide by the law and defiance of the court’s orders cannot merit anything less than a sentence”.
Advocate Aditya N. Prasad appeared for the Petitioner, whereas Senior Advocate I.S. Alagh appeared for the Respondent.
In a nutshell, during the previous year, the second and third Respondents were held guilty of having committed contempt of court as they were prima facie found to be in breach of the orders of this court as well as the order of the NGT in (a) Kalpavriksh v. Union of India & Ors; W.P. (C) 1772/2007; (b) S.C. Jain v. Union of India and Anr., W.P. (C) no. 11162/2009; (c) New Delhi Nature Society v. Shri Vinay Sheel Saxena, CONT.CAS(C) 660/2020; (d) Aditya N. Prasad & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors., O.A. no. 82/2013.
After going through the record, the High Court noted that status-quo was not maintained at the site and no reply was filed by the Respondents in terms of the show-cause notice issued to them.
Therefore, the High Court observed that there was a breach and disobedience of the order dated Feb 25, 2022, of the court and the orders of the NGT.
Observing that in Cont. Case(C) 851 of 2021, the Court had directed the Public Works Department (PWD) to exercise due caution apropos all its ongoing civil works as well as for all future projects, the Bench found that neither this exercise was done, nor the Respondents have complied with the directions of the Court passed in S.C. Jain vs. Union of India in WP(C) No. 11162/2009.
Therefore, finding consistent disregard by PWD officers in compliance with the Court’s direction, the Bench sentenced the Respondents to simple imprisonment for four months.
Cause Title: New Delhi Nature Society v. Rajesh Bansal and Ors.