2023 0 Supreme(SC) 529
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
SANJAY KISHAN KAUL, ABHAY S. OKA, JJ.
Meenal Bhargava - Petitioner
Naveen Sharma & Ors. - Respondents
Contempt Petition (C) Nos. 340342 of 2022 In Criminal Appeal No. 13411343 of 2019
Decided On : 16-05-2023
Power of Supreme Court to punish a person for contempt is unrestricted by Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 – Section 15 – Contempt of Court – Power of Supreme Court to punish a person for contempt is unrestricted by Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 – Contemnor never applied to this Court for a grant of extension of time to bring back child – Contemnor has not shown any signs of remorse – Contemnor has shown scant respect to judicial proceedings pending in this Court – He has defied assurance given to this Court that he has submitted himself to jurisdiction of this Court – Due to misrepresentation made by contemnor, Foreign Court has not honoured principle of comity of Courts – Act of denying the fact that he voluntarily submitted to jurisdiction of this Court and his conduct of opposing request for grant of mirroring order amounts to interference with administration of justice and obstructing administration of justice – Acts and omissions of contemnor amount to both civil and criminal contempt – This calls for strict action against him – Contemnor sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for six months – He shall pay a fine of Rs. 25 lakhs within a period of six months from today – Fine amount shall be deposited with Registry of this Court. (Paras 5, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 13)
Facts of the case:
By judgment and order dated 16th January 2023, respondent no.1 (contemnor) was held guilty of contempt. Sentencing part was suspended only with the object of giving last opportunity to contemnor to make amends.
Findings of Court:
Considering his contumacious conduct, we propose to direct the contemnor to pay a fine of Rs. 25 lakhs and to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of six months for committing civil and criminal contempt. In default of payment of the fine, he will have to undergo a further sentence of simple imprisonment for two months.
Result : Directions issued and matter listed for next hearing.
Act Referred :CONTEMPT OF COURTS ACT : S.15Cases Referred:
Advocates appeared :For the Petitioner(s) : Ms. Meenakshi Arora, Sr. Adv. Mr. Amit Pawan, AOR Mr. Anand Nandan, Adv. Mr. Hassan Zubair Waris, Adv. Mr. Aakarsh, Adv. Mr. Suchit Singh Rawat, Adv. Ms. Shivangi, Adv. For the Respondent(s) : Mr. Ranjan Mukherjee, AOR Mr. Saurabh Sharma, Adv. Mrs. Vanshja Shukla, Adv. Mr. Sharath Nambiar,Adv. Mr. Nakul Changappa K.K.,Adv. Mr. Vatsal Joshi,Adv. Ms. Indra Bhakar,Adv. Mr. Raj Bahadur Yadav, AOR Mr. Shlok Chandra, Adv. Mr. Vinayak Sharma, Adv. Mr. Anuj Srinivas Udupa,Adv. Mr. Chitransh Sharma,Adv. Mr. Pratyush Srivastav, Adv. Ms. Vanshaja Shukla, Adv. Ms. Swati Ghildiyal, Adv. Mr. Sharath Narayan Nambiar, Adv. Mr. Akshay Nain, Adv. Ms. Bani Dikshit, Adv. Mr. Arvind Kumar Sharma, AOR
Abhay S. Oka, J.
1. By judgment and order dated 16th January 2023, we held the respondent no.1 (contemnor) guilty of contempt. We have recorded detailed findings in the said judgment and order. Before we passed the said Order, the learned counsel for the contemnor was fully heard and in fact, the contemnor was also present through video conferencing. We postponed the sentencing part only with the object of giving last opportunity to the contemnor to make amends. However, we find that the contemnor has not shown any signs of remorse. On the contrary, the submissions made on his behalf clearly show that the contemnor has scant respect for the Orders of this Court.
2. We are not reproducing all the findings recorded in the earlier order. In terms of the undertaking given by the contemnor and the orders of this Court passed from time to time, he was under an obligation to bring back the child to India on 1st July 2022. We also noted the conduct of the contemnor in paragraph 12, which shows that he never had any intention of bringing the child back to India.
3. The learned counsel for the contemnor invited our attention to the proceedings of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois (for short “the Circuit Court”) of 24th January 2023. He pointed out that the said proceedings record that one Mr Wasko has been appointed as the Guardian Ad Litem by the said Court in the USA. He submitted that as the child was subjected to sexual abuse while he was staying with the petitioner in India, a forensic investigation is in progress in the United States of America (USA), and therefore, the child cannot be brought back to India unless the investigation is over. Learned counsel pointed out the submissions made by Mr. Wasko before the said Court. He submitted that the contemnor has acted in the best interests of the minor child and that he has acted in a bonafide manner to protect the interests of the minor child. He submitted that now that Guardian Ad Litem has been appointed, the contemnor cannot bring back the child to India so long as the appointment continues to exist.
4. Learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioner has invited our attention to the various aspects of the conduct of the contemnor and pointed out that, in fact, he is guilty o
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