Delhi High Court discharges contemnors guilty of interfering in the function of Local Commissioner on unconditional apology

delhi high court

Delhi High Court: A contempt case was filed against willful disobedience and interference and obstructions in the administration of justice by the respondents. A division bench of Suresh Kumar Kait and Shalinder Kaur, JJ., held the respondents guilty of contempt but discharged them by accepting their unconditional and sincere apology.

The brief background of the case is that Century World had preferred a suit seeking permanent injunction restraining infringement, passing off and rendition of account, etc. against the respondents wherein a Local Commissioner was appointed to visit the spot where infringing material was available, however, the respondents did not allow to search the other portion of the residential house, which was locked. While the Local Commissioner was in the process of picking the infringed material, ruckus was created by the respondents. Respondent 2 with the help of miscreants caught hold off the cameraman and forcefully took his camera to delete all the photos and videos of the infringing goods. Further, they locked the main gate from inside to confine the Local Commissioner and other people assisting him and fearing for their lives, the Local Commissioner along with other people assisting him had to flee away from the spot. A show cause notice was issued to the respondents as to why the matter was not to be sent to the Delhi High Court for initiating contempt proceedings against them.

In a reply filed by respondent 3 and 4, it was stated that they had assisted the learned Local Commissioner to their best and stated that the learned Local Commissioner has adopted a very hostile attitude to browbeat and intimate the respondents claiming that she would be jailed immediately if there was even a whisper from her against allowing them to proceed to inspect the premises but there was no threat or obstructions from the side of the respondents at any stage. The District Judge vide order dated 28-03-2023 observed that “The facts reveals that there appears to be prima facie willful disobedience and interference and obstructions in administration of justice to the order passed by Ld. Predecessor of this Court against respondents. Therefore, in the totality of the facts and circumstances, this Court is of the opinion that it is a fit ease where matter should be referred to Hon’ble High Court of Delhi for initiating contempt proceedings against all four respondents.” Delhi High Court vide order dated 21-04-2023 held that “In my opinion, therefore, while this is a fit for initiating proceedings of criminal contempt against the respondent nos. l and 2, no case against the respondent nos.3 and 4 is made out.”

After the present appeal was filed, a show cause notice was issued as to why proceedings for contempt petition were not initiated against them, the respondents denied all the allegations. However, they apologised and stated that the entire incident is quite unfortunate and though facts have been misrepresented before the instant Court, however, they do not intend to disobey the orders of the Court and that the respondents have great respect for the Court. An apology affidavit was tendered by respondent 1 and she also submitted that “… respondents hold the deepest and highest regard for the Courts and due process of law. They have not deliberately or willfully disobeyed the orders passed by learned District Judge (Commercial) or any other Court of law at any point of time or caused or intended to cause any obstruction in the administration of justice in any manner.”

Thus, the Court held the respondents guilty of contempt, however, since the respondents tendered an unconditional, unqualified, and sincere apology to the Court, respondents 1 and 2 were discharged from the proceedings.

[Court on its own motion v Monica Chadha, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 7459, decided on 21-11-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Ms. Swathi Sukumar, Ms. Nishtha Khurana, Ms. Kinjal Goyal, Mr. Ishwar Mohapatra & Mr. Pratyush Rao, Advocates for respondent

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