Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Expressing that, attempts to circumvent or undermine judicial decisions need to be viewed seriously in order to ensure that the functioning of our country is unhindered, especially during turbulent times, Subramonium Prasad, J., held that,

“It is only the rule of law which not only cements the civilised functioning of a country, but also drives a country towards progress and development.”

The instant contempt petition had been filed for initiating contempt proceedings against respondent 1 for violating the undertaking given to the Court.

In a suit for possession, permanent injunction and for mesne profit/damages was filed against the respondent by Badri Prakash Soni, who was the father of the petitioner and respondent 1.

The parties who were related to each other entered into a compromise and under the said compromise, the respondents Munish Soni and Piyush Soni agreed to hand over the ground floor of the premises to the petitioner.

Apart from the above said, the defendants were made to pay a sum of Rs 1 Crore under the said compromise.

After a relinquishment deed was executed by Vikas Soni in favour of the petitioner, the petitioner got the premises in question converted into freehold by paying conversion charges to DDA and a conveyance deed was registered in favour of the petitioner by the DDA.

The present contempt petition was filed as the respondents did not vacate the premises.

Analysis, Law and Decision


Supreme Court has repeatedly held that all decrees and orders are executable under the CPC, including consent decrees and orders, but merely because an order or decree is executable, it would not take away the jurisdiction of the Court to deal with the matter under the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

In the instant matter, the respondents had given an undertaking that they would positively hand over the physical vacant possession of the ground floor of the property, but they did not do so.

High Court was concerned with upholding the majesty of the law and the undertaking given to this Court to vacate the ground floor of the premises.

“The underlying purpose of the law of contempt is meant to serve public interest and build confidence in the judicial process. This flows from how the functioning of a democratic society is sustained by the rule of law and wilful violation of the same would enable anarchy.”

In the Supreme Court’s decision of Vinay Chandra, In Re., (1995) 2 SCC 584, Court had delineated the purpose of the law of contempt in building confidence in the judicial process.

Elaborating further, the High Court added that the process of due course of administration of justice must remain unimpaired. Adding to this, the Bench stated that,

“…it is the duty of the Court to take a strict view when there is non-compliance of an Order of the Courts, and Courts should not hesitate in wielding the sword of contempt when grappling with a situation pertaining to wilful disobedience.”

Court did not appreciate the defences raised by the respondents to subvert the authority of the Courts.

Therefore, the respondents were guilty of the contempt of Court. [Navin Soni v. Munish Soni, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 1161, decided on 26-4-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr. Vikas Arora, Ms. Radhika Arora, Mr. Mohit Dagar and Mr. Siddharth  Singh, Mr. Ayush Kumar, Advocates

For the Respondents:

Mr. Varinder Kumar Sharma, Mr. Akshay Soni, Advocates

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Whether the third party can be absolved from contempt if they are informed that their conduct would violate the Court order, Subramonium Prasad, J., reiterated the well-settled position that though broadly a person who is not a party to the proceedings cannot be proceeded against for violation of the order, but a third party cannot seek to absolve themselves if they are informed about the fact that their conduct amounts to a violation of the Court and that despite the information, they choose to willfully flout the mandate of the Court.

A contempt petition had been filed for wilful disobedience of this Court’s Order.

Factual Matrix

Petitioner had inherited a property from her late sister. The brother-in-law i.e., R.N. Kapur of the petitioner resided on the ground floor of that property along with his wife who was also the petitioner’s sister. On her death, R.N. Kapur filed a suit claiming to be the owner of the ground floor of the property.

It was stated that the above-stated suit was settled before and in terms of the said settlement, a joint application under Order XXIII Rule 1/3 read with Section 151 CPC was filed before this Court and a decree was passed in presence of the plaintiff and defendants. After the death of R.N. Kapur, the petitioner with directions of this Court took possession of the property.

Further, it was found that respondents 1,2 and 3 had trespassed the property in question. Consequently, the petitioner filed a complaint before the local police and an FIR was registered under Sections 448/34 IPC.

Respondents were also made aware of the undertaking given by R.N. Kapur and despite being made aware of the same, they did not vacate the premises which resulted in the present filing of contempt petition.

The question that arose in the present matter was:

Whether respondents committed contempt of Court or not?

Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 defines “civil contempt” as wilful disobedience to any judgment, decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a court or wilful breach of an undertaking given to a Court. 

High Court expressed that the law of contempt had been brought primarily to secure public respect and confidence in the judicial process and provide a sanction for any act or conduct which is likely to destroy or impair such respect and confidence.

In U.N. Bora v. Assam Roller Flour Mills Assn., (2022) 1 SCC 101, after analysing the various principles of law on the point rendered, the Supreme Court itself has laid down the parameters as to when action under the Contempt of Courts Act should be initiated.

As per the facts of the case, respondent 1 claimed ownership of the property through Will given by R.N. Kapur which was executed before the decree was passed on 14-3-2012 which was passed in pursuance of the Settlement Agreement which was based upon the undertaking that had been given by R.N. Kapur.

The Bench stated that the undertaking given by R.N. Kapoor before this Court will take precedence over the Will executed by him prior to giving the said undertaking.

The Court opined that the undertaking given to the Court has to be respected and cannot be permitted to be circumvented by saying that the respondents were not parties to the suit and have not given the undertaking.

Hence, the contention that the respondent cannot be held liable for the contempt of the Court as they were not parties to the Suit and had not given the undertaking to the Court cannot be accepted.

The Court observed that,

Disobedience of an order of the Court, if permitted, will result in striking at the root of the rule of law on which our system of governance is based.

Therefore, the power to punish for contempt is necessary for the maintenance of an effective legal system and the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 had been legislated to prevent interference in the course of administration of justice.

Stating the assuming that respondent 1 was initially not aware of the consent decree, the moment she was informed about the undertaking given by R.N. Kapur, through whom respondent 1 derived title, she ought to have respected the same and not breached it, hence the High Court held that obstinate and wilful act on the part of the respondent not to obey consent decree amounted to civil contempt.

High Court decided that the respondents were liable for punishment under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. [Indra Pasricha v. Deepika Chauhan, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 1090, decided on 19-4-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr Ashutosh Lohia, Mr Soumya Kumar, Advocates

For the Respondents:

Mr Ravi P Mehrotra, Senior Advocate with Mr Vibhu Tiwari, Advocate for R-1 & R-3

Mr Gautam Narayan, ASC for GNCTD with Mr Aditya Nair, Advocate for SHO, Hauz Khas

CBDT
Legislation UpdatesRules & Regulations

The Central Board of Direct Taxes notified the Income Tax (31st Amendment) Rules, 2021 which seeks to further amend Income Tax Rules, 1962. Key changes brought by the amendment are as follows:

 

  • The 31st Amendment Rules, 2021 has introduced new Rules 11UE and 11UF, after Rule UD for provisions relating to ‘Indirect transfer prior to 28.05.2012 of assets situated in India’ along with Form 1 or 2 or 3.
  • Rule 11UE – Specified conditions under Explanation to fifth and sixth proviso to Explanation 5 to clause (i) of sub-section (1) of section 9 which states that the declarant shall furnish an undertaking in Form No. 1 and shall append the undertakings from all the interested parties in Part M of the Annexure to the undertaking in Form No. 1 and furnish all the attachments required to be furnished under any clause or Part thereof.
  • Rule 11UFManner of furnishing undertaking which states that the undertaking in Form No. 1 under sub-rule (1) of rule 11UE shall be submitted by the declarant to the jurisdictional Principal Commissioner or Commissioner within 45 days from the date of commencement of the Income-tax (31st Amendment) Rules, 2021.

After the undertaking in Form No. 1 under sub-rule (1) of rule 11UE is furnished by the declarant, the jurisdictional Principal Commissioner or Commissioner shall, within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of the said undertaking, grant a certificate in Form No. 2 accepting such undertaking; or pass an order rejecting such undertaking, where the undertaking in Form No. 1 is incorrect or incomplete or any part thereof or any of the attachments or evidences or the indemnity bonds provided therein or any of the authorisations, as referred to in sub-rule (3) of rule 11UE is incorrect or incomplete or not furnished, after giving an opportunity of being heard to the declarant.

  • The Amendment provides revised Form No. 1 for filing undertaking declaring that specified orders have been passed or made in respect of income accruing or arising through or from the transfer of an asset or a capital asset situated in India in consequence of the transfer of a share or interest in a company or entity registered or incorporated outside India made before the May 28, 2012.


*Tanvi Singh, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of P.N. Prakash and R. Pongiappan, JJ., addressed a contempt petition filed under Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act.

Petitioner aged 87 years old was blessed with 5 children. He was in service when his children were young and was allotted a plot by the Tamil Nadu Housing Board, wherein he built a two-storeyed house. After his retirement, he started living peacefully with his wife and 4th son viz. Laxmi Rajah on the first floor. Apart from this he also owned a few more properties in and around Chennai.

After the death of his wife, petitioners’ children started demanding their shares in the properties and two of his sons Vijay and Suraj took possession of the ground floor and after a year started giving him trouble.

Due to the fear of being dispossessed from the house, a settlement deed in favour of the 4th son was executed.

On being infuriated with the above stated, the 4th son’s wife assaulted the petitioner and the other three daughter-in-law lodged a police complaint against the petitioner based on which an enquiry was conducted and the case as closeld as the same was a ‘civil dispute’.

The disgruntled sons gave a complaint of cheating and fraudulent transaction against their father. Again, the same was closed as “family quarrel”.

Vijay and Suraj filed a suit before the VII Additional City Civil Court for partition alleging that their father the petitioner did not have any means to purchase the Anna Nagar house property and it was bought with the funds of their grandfather and hence, they have a share in it.

The above mentioned two sons also assaulted their father, after which the petitioner sought protection under the Tamil Nadu Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

Police filed an FIR against the two sons for the offences under Sections 294(b), 352 and 506(I) Penal Code, 1860 and Section 24 of the Tamil Nadu Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007.

Two sons pleaded to Murthi at Metropolitan Magistrate’s house to withdraw the complaint and they will vacate the premises and show the bonafide they filed a written memo of undertaking before the Metropolitan Magistrate.

Reason for filing the present petition

After earning freedom, the two sons turned turtle, reneged from their undertaking and refused to vacate the premises and therefore, Murthi/ Petitioner was before this Court with the instant contempt petition.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Whether the undertaking given by Vijay and Suraj before the Metropolitan Magistrate was under coercion when they were in police custody or they gave it voluntarily?

Bench noted that when Vijay and Suraj’s counsel submitted before the Court that if some more time would be granted, they would vacate the house, the duo refused to toe their counsel’s line as well. Mainly they stuck on to the issue that their father did not give any share to them in his property.

Order passed by the V MM stated that the advocate for the accused pleaded to the V MM not to remand the accused and only thereafter, Murthi came into the picture, resulting in the duo filing a memo of undertaking to vacate the house, followed by Murthi filing a memo accepting the undertaking given by his sons.

Court expressed that the accused were represented by an advocate at the time of remand, and he would not have been so guile to make his clients file a memo of undertaking had the V MM been disinclined to remand them in judicial custody.

In view of the above, it is limpid that the alleged contemnors had filed an undertaking into the Court, which they had no intention of honouring, and had successfully extricated themselves from remand proceedings and their contention that the undertaking was given by them under coercion defies credulity.

Power of High Court to punish for Contempt of Courts subordinate to it, is recognized in Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act and it is well settled that a wilful breach of an undertaking given to the Court would constitute civil contempt.

Therefore, the subsequent act of deliberately reneging from the terms of the undertaking by the alleged contemnors constitutes a serious interference in the administration of justice, and the respondents were held to be guilty of Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.

The contempt petition was allowed.[P.S. Murthi v. P.S. Vijay, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 2052, decided on 04-06-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

For petitioner:  Mr. T. Arun Kumar for M/s. Tamizh Law Firm

For respondents: Mr. V. Krishnamoorthy

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A.K. Menon, J., addressed a matter wherein an arrangement was executed between the parties for taking care of the elderly mother in light of a conditional gift deed.

The instant application was filed by the plaintiffs praying for urgent relief. Plaintiff 1 is not a resident of India and plaintiff 2 being his mother, was being looked after by the defendant under an arrangement between them.

As a part of the above-stated arrangement, plaintiff 1 contended that defendant executed an undertaking by which the defendant agreed and undertook to look after plaintiff 2 i.e. the elderly mother of plaintiff 1.

A Gift Deed was also executed on the same date in favour of the defendant when the above-stated undertaking was executed by the defendant.

The subject matter of the said Gift Deed was a flat situated in Mumbai in a co-operative housing society. Plaintiffs contended that the gift was conditional upon compliance with the undertaking and hence sought the gift deed needed to be revoked as the defendant had declined to honour the undertaking.

The reason for seeking urgent ad-interim relief is the plaintiffs’ apprehension that the defendant may dispose of the said flat to the detriment of the plaintiffs since the plaintiffs sought to revoke the said gift deed.

Prima facie, the documents stated that the gift deed was indeed executed and so was the undertaking.

Further, there was no satisfactory explanation as to why the execution of the undertaking was denied since it appears that the undertaking was initially shared by the defendant himself in the draft form by e-mail, copy of which was found in the additional compilation of documents filed by the plaintiffs.

Hence, prima facie it appeared that there was a link between the undertaking, obligation therein and the gift deed.

Further, it was submitted that the gift deed purported to gift the flat described therein out of love and affection to the defendant. It was contended on behalf of the defendant by Mr Petkar that even under Section 126 of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, such a gift deed cannot be revoked and that no case is made out for revocation even assuming that there was an undertaking in place.

In the Court’s opinion, the denial of the execution of the undertaking is suspect and will have to be examined in greater detail. If the defendant had in fact not executed the undertaking, there was no reason for him to have sent those undertaking in draft form and in PDF form to plaintiff 1.

Hence, prima facie case was made out for grant of an ad-interim relief. Bench directed the co-operative housing society housing the suit flat shall make note of this injunction and shall not permit the transfer of the flat till further orders.

Flat in question is to be protected from alienation.[Edward D’Cunha v. Mark Madhu Suvarna, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 3083, decided on 23-11-2020]


Advocates who appeared in the matter:

Rashmin Khandekar, i/by Taurus Legal, for the Applicants-Original Plaintiffs.

Akshay Petkar, with Aniket Malu, for the Defendant.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Akil Kureshi and S.J. Kathawalla, JJ., disposed of a petition by stating that the notice issued by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to Association of producers of motion pictures in regard to a requirement of submission of an undertaking along with an application stating either subtitles are included or subsequently no subtitles will be added once the film is certified as unsustainable.

In the present petition, the grievance of the petitioner was in respect to the above-issued notice by CBFC, wherein CBFC stated that it found some films being exhibited with sub-titles without even seeking the endorsement of CBFC under Rule 33. As per Rule 22(3) of Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 only the final version of the film is to be shown to examining the committee for certification purposes.

For the above notice, the petitioner stated that after the certification is received from CBFC, often the need arises for providing subtitles to the films, particularly in situations where the film is to be exhibited in regions where the language of the film is not familiar with the audience.

Petitioner adding to the above stated that the addition of sub-titles would merely require intimation to CBFC and endorsement of CBFC of its acceptance on certificate already issued. According to the petitioner, if the said procedure is followed then no objection from their side would rise for the same.

But, CBFC insists on such sub-titles passing through the entire fresh gamut of certification as if the film is presented for certification afresh or de novo. All of this would entail considerable expenditure as also the consumption of considerable time.

Conclusion

On noting the facts and circumstances of the matter along with the submissions, Court noted a very significant point in respect to the affidavit filed by CBFC on 14-08-2018, according to which

Any addition of sub-titles after certification of the film is required to be reported to the Board in Form III in the Second Schedule and the Board has to endorse the particulars of the alteration on the certificate, as mandated under Rule 33 of the said rules.

Petitioner does not object to the above-stated proposition and ideally, the matter would have been closed at this stage. Though the impugned notice, it creates considerable doubt and travels beyond the stand of CBFC adopted in the said affidavit.

Court stated that, the said direction is unsustainable for two reasons:

  • It mandates filmmakers to submit the film with sub-titles if he desires that the film should carry sub-titles and once the film is certified, no sub-titles would be permitted to be added. Court does not see any source of power on the part of CBFC under the Act or the Rules to give such a mandate.
  • Second infirmity in the said direction was that, it runs contrary to the stand of CBFC itself explained in the affidavit in reply.

Thus, High Court in terms of the above view held that the said notice is in conflict with the stand of the CBFC noted in the affidavit in reply and the same is held to be unsustainable. [Indian Motion Picture Producers Assn. v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 2288, decided on 25-09-2019]