Saturday, 13 June 2015

Whether court has jurisdiction to decide matter on merit in contempt proceeding?

 In  J.S.   Parihar   v.   Ganpat   Duggar   and   others  (1996) 6 SCC 291
their   Lordships   of   the   Supreme   Court   held   that 
jurisdiction  to consider  the matter on  merits cannot 
be exercised in the contempt proceeding. Paragraph­ 6 
of the report states as under:­ 

“6.........It is seen that once there is an order 
passed   by   the   Government   on   the   basis   of   the 
directions   issued   by   the   court,   there   arises   a 
fresh   cause   of   action   to   seek   redressal   in   an 
appropriate   forum.   The   preparation   of   the 
seniority   list   may   be   wrong   or   may   be   right   or 
may   or   may   not   be   in   conformity   with   the 
directions.   But   that   would   be   a   fresh   cause   of 
action   for   the   aggrieved   party   to   avail   of   the 
opportunity   of   judicial   review.   But   that   cannot 
be considered to be the willful violation of the 
order. After re­exercising the judicial review in 
contempt   proceedings,   a   fresh   direction   by   the 
learned   Single   Judge   cannot   be   given   to   redraw 
the seniority list. In other words, the learned 
Judge was exercising the jurisdiction to consider 
the matter on merits in the contempt proceedings. 
It would not be permissible under Section 12 of 
the Act.” 



Contempt Case (C)  No. 30/2011


Chairman,   Coal   India   Limited 
and others 
Citation;2015 CRLJ1381
   (Passed on 09/12/2014) 






(respondents/contemnors No. 2 & 3) requiring them to 
show   cause   why   they   should   not   be   proceeded   against 
contempt   for   having   disregarded     and   disobeyed,   the 
order of this Court passed in Writ Appeal No.135/2009 
dated 15/06/2010.  
Division Bench of this Court, by its order dated 
15/06/2010, while setting aside the order of  learned 
Single   Judge   was   pleased   to   direct   the   respondents 
therein namely, Coal India Limited, South Eastern Coal 
Fields   Limited   and   Director   (Personnel   I.   &   R)   Coal 
India   Limited,   to   consider   the   case   of   promotion   of 
the contempt petitioner with effect from the date when 
his  juniors  were   considered   for   promotion   and   were 
It   is   the   case   of   the   contempt   petitioner   that 
pursuant to the order passed by Division Bench of this 
Court on 15/06/2010, he communicated the order of this 
Court   to   the   contemnors   herein   by   making 
representation   on   16/08/2010   and   prayer   was   made   to 
comply   the   aforestated   order.   It   is   further   case   of 
the   petitioner   herein   that   in   respect   of   the 
representation   made   by   the   petitioner,   in   utter 
disregard   of   the   order   passed   by   this   Court,   his 
representation   was   rejected   by   the   contemnor   No.   3 
herein by order dated 6­7/12/2010 and communicated by 
contemnor No. 2 herein by memo dated 09/12/2010 to him 
and it is further case of the contempt petitioner that 
a bare perusal of the aforesaid order would show that 
it   is   clear   case   of   contempt   of   lawful   authority   of 
this Court.  
Invoking   contempt   jurisdiction   of   this   Court 
under   Article   215   of   the   Constitution   of   India   read 
with Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, 
in   above­stated   backgrond   contempt   petitioner   herein 
has   filed   this   contempt   petition   alleging   that   the 
respondents   particularly   contemnors   No.   2   &   3     have 
not complied the order complained of dated 15/06/2010 
in   its   letter   and   spirit,   and   therefore,   they   be 
punished   for   disregarding   and   disobeying   the   order 
complained of. 
Rule   was   issued   on   15/03/2011   to   the   contemnor 
No. 2 only and thereafter by order dated 13/02/2012, 
the   time   was   given   to   the   counsel   for   the   contemnor 
No.   2   to   file   counter   affidavit   on   behalf   of   the 
contemnors No. 1 & 3 also. The counter affidavit  has 
been filed on behalf of the contemnors herein that the 
case   of   the   contempt   petitioner   has   already   been 
considered in accordance with applicable Service Rules 
by   competent   authority   of   Coal   India   Limited   i.e. 
contemnor   No.   3,   immediately   on   receipt   of 
representation   from   the   petitioner   and   after 




respondent/contemnor No. 3 has passed a detailed order 
holding that petitioner is not entitled for any relief 
other than what has already been granted to him, and 
as the order complained of has fully and substantially 
been complied with, therefore, rule issued against the 
contemnors   herein   deserves   to   be   discharged   and 
contempt proceeding against them be dropped. 
Mr.   A.K.   Chhibber,   appearing   in   person   would 
submit   that   order   passed   by   contemnor   No.   3   holding 
that he is not entitled for promotion from the date on 
which the case of   Mr. A.K. Shrivastava and Mr. A.K. 
Mitra were  considered and promoted is wholly  illegal 
and   contrary   to   the   facts   and   law.   He   would   further 
submit that written test was not never conducted and 
the   finding   recorded   in   the   order   dated   6­7/12/2010 
(Annexure C­6) in that regard   is absolutely illegal 
therefore,   the   contemnors   herein   be   punished   for 
disobedience   of   order   of   this   Court   passed   in   Writ 
Appeal No.135/2009.
Mr.   Kishore   Bhaduri,   learned   counsel   appearing 
for   the   respondents/contemnors   would   submit   that   the 
order   complained   of   dated   15/06/2010   directing 
contemnors   herein   to   consider   the   case   of   the 
petitioner with effect from the date when his juniors 
were   considered   for   promotion   in   accordance   with 
Service   Rules   prevalent   at   that   time,   was   fully 
complied with and on due consideration, the contemnor 
No.   3   found   that   the   claim   of   contempt   petitioner, 
claiming   promotion   at   par   with   Mr.   A.K.   Shrivastava 
and   Mr.   A.K.   Mitra   is   not   tenable   as   aforesaid   two 
officers were taken over from the other Coal Companies 
in   executive   cadre,   whereas   Mr.   A.K.   Chhibber   was 
taken   over   in   non­executive   cadre.   He   would   further 
submit that in the  contempt petition, the petitioner 
has   accepted   the   fact   that   the   order   passed   on   06­
07/12/2010   by   competent   authority   of   Coal   India 
Limited   rejecting   his   case   was   communicated   to   him. 
He would further submit that once an order is passed 
on   the   basis   of   direction   issued   by   Court,   by 
contemnor No. 3 herein deciding case of the contempt 
petitioner   on   merits   and   if   contempt   petitioner   is 
aggrieved   against   that   order,   he   has   to   invoke   the 
remedy available under the law for judicial review of 
that   order.   He   would   lastly   submit   that   even   if   the 
order   passed   by   respondent   No.   3   is   erroneous   on 
merits, the contempt petition under Section 12 of the 
Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 read with Section 215 of 
the Constitution of India would not be maintainable in 
law and as such the rule issued against them deserves 
to be discharged and contempt proceedings be dropped.
I   have   heard   petitioner   in   person   and   learned 
counsel for the respondents/contemnors and perused the 
record available with utmost circumspection.  
It  is well  settled  law,  before  a proceeding  for 
contempt can succeed, it is of paramount importance to 
establish first, the service of the order of the Court 
said to have been disobeyed upon the person alleged to 
have committed contempt thereof, secondly the precise 
act of contempt, thirdly the precise responsibility of 
the contemnor in the act of contempt, and fourthly the 
date of the alleged contempt being subsequent to the 
service   of   the   order   said   to   have   been   disobeyed. 
These   are   the   four   indispensable   requisites   and 
failure   to   establish   any   one   of   them   must   mean 
dismissal of the petition for contempt.  
10. In order to appreciate submission advanced at the 
bar, it would be proper to notice operative portion of 
the   order   complained   of,   dated   15/06/2010   passed   by 
this Court in Writ Appeal which states as under:­ 
“11.   .........Therefore,   we   set   aside   the   impugned 
order   dated   23/03/2009   passed   by   the   learned 
Single   Judge   and   without   going   into   the   merits 
regarding the service record of the appellant, we 
dispose of this writ appeal with a direction to 
the   respondent   authorities   to   consider   the   case 
of  promotion  of  the  petitioner  with  effect  from 
the   date   of   promotion   of   his 


considering the promotion of the petitioner with 
effect   from   the   date   of   promotion   of   his 
juniors/contemporaries,   they   will   have   to 
consider   the   provisions   of   the   rules   prevailing 
at   the   relevant   time   and   whether   the   promotion 
was   on   the   basis   of   seniority­cum­merit   or 
seniority   subject   to   the   fitness   or   other 
criteria   may  also  be  seen  while  considering  the 
promotion   of   the   petitioner   with   retrospective 
11. Thereafter,  the  petitioner  made  a  representation 
to the Chairman, Coal India Limited vide Annexure C­4 
dated 16/08/2010 and communicated the order complained 
of.  The  operative portion of representation states as 
“8. That   considering   the   totality   of   the   facts 
and   circumstances   stated   above,   it   is   in   the 
interest of justice, equity & fair play that the 
judgment   dated   15/06/2010   passed   by   the   learned 
Div. Bench of the Hon'ble High Court be given due 
regard by earlier compliance in literatim in an 
Hon'ble   manner   i.e.   by   way   of   consideration   in 
the   case   of   promotion   in   executive   cadre   (E­2) 
retrospectively   w.e.f.   1.5.1973   at   par   with   Sri 
A.K.   Shrivastava   in   the   then   scale   of   Rs.400­
1250/­ (CMAL) who was about 8 months junior to me 
and retired from the rank of M­2 from 30.6.2009 & 
subsequent promotionary benefits at par with A.K. 
Sinha,   B.Sc.     about   two   year   junior   to   me   & 
retired w.e.f. 31.8.2007 from the rank of M­3 as 
CGM (Sales & Marketing) discipline from the scale 
of Rs.51300­73000/­ (Revised) w.e.f. 1.1.2007, in 
the interest of justice.
       I refrain any earnestly request you sir to 
issue   instructions   to   the   authorities   concerned 
for early compliance of the Court order/judgment 
dated 15.6.2010 passed in writ appeal No. 135 of 
2009 as directed in the interest of justice.”
12. Upon   receipt   of   the   representation   of   the 
contempt petitioner along with copy of the order dated 
15/06/2010   passed   by   this   Court,   contemnor   No.   3 
herein being the  competent  authority  to consider  the 
case   of   the   petitioner   considered   as   directed   and 
passed the following order stating as under (Annexure 
         Coal India Limited
   Government of India Undertaking
        A Navratna Company
           “COAL BHAWAN”
No. CIL/C5A(i)/AKC/419    dt.6th/07 December­2010
     In pursuance of the order dated 15/06/2010 
passed   in   Writ   Appeal   No.   135   of   2009,   (Shri 
A.K. Chhibber v. CIL & Ors)whereby the Hon'ble 
Division   Bench   of   High   Court   of   Chhattisarh, 
Bilaspur   inter   alia   partly   allowed   the   writ 
appeal directing the respondent authorities to 
consider   the   case   of   promotion   of   the 
petitioner   with   effect   from   the   date   of 
promotion   of   his   juniors/contemporaries 
considering   the   provision   of   the   rules 
prevailing   at   the   relevant   time,   undersigned, 
being   Director   (Personnel   &   Industrial 
Relations),   Coal   India   Limited   the   respondent 
No. 3 in the said Writ Appeal has examined the 
entire   case   of   Shri   A.K.   Chhibber,   including 
the   several   writ   petitions,   appeals   arising 
therefrom,   court   orders   passed   in   the   related 
matters   and   the   representation   of   the 
petitioner as also the prevailing practices at 
the relevant time and rules of the company in 
this   regard   and   after   due   consideration   and 
application of mind find that:­
The   claim   of   Sri   Chhibber,   the   writ 
petitioner/appellant,   regarding   partly   of   his 
case   with   that   of   s/Sr.   A.K.   Shrivastava   and 
A.K.   Mitra   is   not   tenable   since   both   Sri 
Shrivastava and Sri Mitra were taken over form 
erstwhile   coal   companies   in   executive   cadre 
while Sri Chhibber who was taken over in non­
executive cadre. 
It   reveals   from   records   that   Sri   A.K. 
Chhibber, the petitioner/appellant herein, was 
initially   employed   on   15.04.1972   as   Chemist 
purely   on   a   temporary   basis   and   was 
subsequently   designated   as   Chemist   in   T&S 
GR.”C”   and   T&S   grade   B   by   the   management   of 
NCDC in 1978 he was promoted to T&S grade A by 
WCL   where   he   continued   to   work   till 
31/12/1985.   Upon   formation   of   SECL   as   new 
company,   Sri   Chhibber   became   an   employee   of 
SECL from 1/1/1986. 
In 1992 Sri A.K. Chhibber moved High Court 
against his non­section/placement in Executive 
cadre by filing a writ petition before Hon’ble 
Jabalpur High Court which was disposed of vide 
order   dated   3/5/1995   with   directions   to   the 
respondents   to   consider   the   case   of   the 
petitioner   in   accordance   with   the   rules 
applicable   to   the   petitioner.   In   compliance 
thereof   the   respondent   management   constituted 
a special selection­cum­DPC but since the writ 
petitioner   did   not   turn   up   before   the   said 
selection   committee,   his   case   could   not   be 
considered at that time. 
Again,   in   terms   of   the   directions   dt. 
11/7/1997 of the Hon'ble High Court of Madhya 
Pradesh   at   Jabalpur   in   MCC   No.   634   of   1996 
filed by Sri Chhibber seeking clarification of 
the order dated 03.05.1995 a special section­
cum­DPC   was   constituted   to   consider   the   case 
of   Sri   A.K.   Chhibber   for   his 
selection/promotion   to   executive   cadre   post. 
The   written   test   was   fixed   on   26.09.1997   at 
SECL   HQ,   Bilaspur   but   again   Sri   Chhibber   did 
not appear in the said written test. 
Thereafter, Shri Chhibber filed another WP 
No. 1531/98 in the year 1998 seeking direction 
for implementation of the order passed by the 
Hon'ble   High   Court   of   MP   in   WP   No.   4087/92. 
The Hon'ble Court passed order dtd. 05.12.2001 
inter alia allowing the writ petition in part 
with directions to the respondents to consider 
the case of the petitioner for Executive Cadre 
E­2     according   to   the   position   which   existed 
before   March   1976   without   written   test.   The 
respondent   company   filed   LPA   No.   17   of   2002 
against the order of Ld. Singe Bench which was 
dismissed   and   the   order   dated   05.12.2001 
passed   by   the   Hon'ble   Single   Judge   attained 
In compliance of the order dtd. 12.03.2003 
passed   in   LPA   No.   17   of   2002,   the   Respondent 
company   constituted   another   section   committee 
and Sri Chhibber was advised to appear before 
the   said   Committee   for   interview   on 
18.06.2003.   He   appeared   before   the   said 
Committee   but   declined   to   be   interviewed   for 
E2 grade, as such due to non­participation in 
the   interview   the   committee   did   not   find   him 
fit for placement in executive cadre post. 
The   petitioner   Sri   Chhibber,   filed 
contempt   petition   for   alleged   non­compliance 
of   order   of   the   Hon'ble   Court   and   in 
compliance   of   the   directions   of   the   Hon'ble 
Court   dt.   12/8/2004,   Coal   India   Limited 
constituted   a   selection   committee   that 
interviewed   Sri   Chhibber   and   based   on   the 
recommendations   thereof,   he   was   promoted   to 
the post of Sales Officer, and posted as such 
in   SECL   vide   order   dated   10.01.2005.   The 
petitioner   Sri   Chhibber   had   joined   on   the 
promoted post and has since superannuated from 
the services from MCL. 
After joining on the promoted post, he had 
again   filed   WP   No.   4765   of   2006   raising 
similar   issues   and   claiming   retrospective 
placement   in   E2   grade   w.e.f.   1973   and   all 
consequential   promotions   etc.   as   were   sought 
in his earlier writ applications. The said WP 
was dismissed by the Hon'ble Chhattisgarh High 
Court vide order dated 23.03.2009. Thereafter, 
the   petitioner   Sri   Chhibber   had   filed   Writ 
Appeal No. 135 of 2009 against the order dated 
23.03.2009,   which   was   allowed   in   part   by   the 
impugned order dt. 15/06/2010.
For the reasons mentioned above, the decision 
of CIL to promote Sri. A.K. Chhibber to E­2 grade 
in   the   year   2005   is   just   and   fair   and   no 
retrospective   effect   to   the   said 
promotion/placement   in   E2   grade   from   1973   is 
justifiable   in   as   much   as   firstly,   the   case   of 
Sri   A.K.   Chhibber­   the   writ   petitioner   is 
distinctly   different   from   that   of   S/Sri   A.K. 
Shrivastava   and   A.K.   Mitra   for   the   reasons 
mentioned herein before and as such Sri Chhibber 
can not be considered for promotion/placement in 
E2   grade   from   1973   AND   secondly,   thought   the 
policy   of   Coal   Indian   Limited   provides   for   all 
selections from non­executive to executive cadre 
in   Sales   &   Marketing   discipline,   to   which   the 
petitioner   belonged,   only   after   notification   of 
the   posts   and   upon   qualifying   the   written 
examination and interview, the management of CIL 
in   due   compliance   of   the   directives   given   by 
Hon'ble   High   Court,   gave   repeated   opportunities 
to   Sri   Chhibber   for   appearing   in   Selection   cum 
DPCs and even constituted special DPCs for him, 
he   refrained   from   appearing   therein   till   2004 
when he was ultimately selected and promoted to 
E2 grade. 
For   the   reasons   above   mentioned,   I   do   not   find 
any merit in the representation and case of Sri. 
A.K. Chhibber­Ex­Sales Officer MCL and dispose it 
                     (R. Mohan Das)
            Director (Personnel & Industrial Relations) 
                            Coal India Limited  
13. The aforesaid order passed by the contemnor No. 3 
was   communicated   to   the   contempt   petitioner   by   Dy. 
General Manager, South Eastern Coal Fields Limited by 
memo dated 09/12/2010, which reads as under:­
             BILASPUR (CG)
                          dtd. 09/12/2010

Shri A.K. Chhibber 
S/o Shri K.N. Chhibber
Retd. Sales Officer, MCL, 
C/o House of Late Ms. U. Chhibber 
Sr. Advocate 
100 Teen Murty Chowk, Sunder Nagar, 
Raipur (CG)­ 492013.
Sub:­Order   No.   CIL:   C5A[1]/AKC/419   dated 
06/07th   December   2010   issued   to   Shri 
A.K.   Chhibber,   S/o   Shri   K.N.   Chhibber, 
Ex­Sales   officer,   MCL   under   the 
signature   of   Director   [P&IR],   CIL, 
Dear Sir, 
       Please find enclosed herewith an order 
No. CIL:C5A(1)/AKC/419 DATED 06/07th December 
2010   issued   to   you   under   the   signature   of 
Director   (P&IR),   CIL,   Kolkata.   Please 
acknowledge receipt of the same. 
Encl: As above.            Yours faithfully

                       Dy. General Manager [P/EE]
Cc:  D[P}, SECL for kind inf. pl. 
Cc: GM(P), CIL, for kind inf.Pl.
Cc: GM [Legal], CIL
14. Thus   from   the   aforesaid   narration   of   the   facts, 
it is quite vivid that the order passed by this Court 
dated 15/06/2010 in Writ Appeal No.135/2009 was duly 
communicated   to   the   contemnors   herein   and   contemnor 
No.   3   herein   being   the   competent   authority   i.e. 
Director   (Personnel   &   Industrial   Relations),   Coal 
India Limited passed an order considering the case of 
the petitioner  as directed  on 15/06/2010 and  thereby 
rejected   the   petitioner's   representation   by   order 
dated   6­7/12/2010,   which   the   petitioner   has   filed 
along with this contempt petition.
15. After   hearing   petitioner   in   person   and   learned 
counsel   for   the   respondents/contemnors   and   upon 
perusal of record, the following facts would emerge on 
the face of record:­
(i) That   this   Court   by   its   order   dated   15/07/2010, 
commanded the respondents therein/contemnors herein to 
consider the case of promotion of contempt petitioner 
with   effect   from   the   date   when   his  juniors  were 
considered   and   promoted   in   accordance   with   relevant 
Service Rule. 
(ii)   That   order   complained   of   was   duly   communicated 
to   the   respondents/contemnors   herein   along   with 
representation by the contempt petitioner. 
(iii)   The   contemnor   No.   3   being   the   competent 
authority   considered   the   case   of   contempt   petitioner 
and passed an order on merits on 6­7/12/2010 holding 
that he is not entitled for promotion at par with Mr. 
A..K. Shrivastava and Mr. A.K. Mitra  for the reasons 
recorded in that order. 
Order   dated   6­7/12/2010   passed   by   contemnor 
No. 3 was communicated to the contempt petitioner by 
contemnor No. 2.  
16. At   this   stage,   it   would   be   opposite   to   notice 
Section 12(1) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971:­
“12.   Punishment   for   contempt   of   court.­(1) 
Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act 
or in any other law, a contempt of court may be 
punished   with   simple   imprisonment   for   a   term 
which   may   extend   to   six   months,   or   with   fine 
which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with 
Provided   that  the  accused  may  be  discharged 
or   the   punishment   awarded   may   be   remitted   on 
apology   being   made   to   the   satisfaction   of   the 
Explanation.­   An   apology   shall   not   be 
rejected   merely   on   the   ground   that   it   is 
qualified or conditional if the accused makes it 
bona fide.”
17. Section   2   of   the   Contempt   of   Courts   Act,   1971 
which lays down as follows:­
“2. Definitions­ In this Act, unless the context 
otherwise requires,­
(a) "Contempt of Court" means civil contempt or 
criminal contempt;
(b)   "civil   contempt"   means   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;
(c)   "criminal   contempt"   means   the   publication 
(whether   by   words,   spoken   or   written,   or   by 
signs,   or   by   visible   representations,   or 
otherwise)   of   any   matter   or   the   doing   of   any 
other act whatsoever which­
(i)   scandalises   or   tends   to   scandalise,   or 
lowers   or   tends   to   lower   the   authority   of   any 
Court; or
(ii)   prejudices,   or   interferes   or   tends   to 
interfere with, the due course of any judicial 
proceeding; or
(iii) interferes or tends to interfere with, or 
obstructs   or   tends   to   obstruct,   the 
administration of justice in any other manner;
(d)   "High   Court"   means   the   High   Court   for   a 
State   or   a   Union   territory,   and   includes   the 
Court of the Judicial Commissioner in any Union 
18. (A) Section 2 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 
came to be considered by the Supreme Court in  Dinesh 
Kumar Gupta v. United India Insurance Co. Ltd. & Ors1 , 
their Lordships held as under:­
”12.1...The   Contempt   of   Courts   Act,   1971 
clearly postulates the existence of only the 
following   preconditions   before   a   person   can 
be held to have committed civil contempt:
(i)   There   must   be   a   judgment   or   order   or 
decree or direction or writ or other process 
of   a   court;   or   an   undertaking   given   to   a 
(ii) The judgment, etc. must be of the court 
and   undertaking   must   have   been   given   to   a 
(iii)   There   must   be   a   disobedience   to   such 
judgment, etc. or breach of such undertaking;
(iv) The disobedience or breach, as the case 
may be, must be wilful.”
(B) In   the   later   part   of   judgment,   it   has   further 
JT 2010 (12) SC 81
been held that in case of contempt of civil nature, it 
must be willful disobedience:­
“13. This now leads us to the next question and a 
more relevant one, as to whether a proceeding for 
contempt   initiated   against   the   appellant   can   be 
held   to   be   sustainable   merely   on   speculation, 
assumption   and   inference   drawn   from   facts   and 
circumstances   of   the   instant   case.   In   our 
considered opinion, the answer clearly has to be 
in the negative in view of the well­settled legal 
position   reflected   in   a   catena   of   decisions   of 
this Court that contempt of a civil nature can be 
held to have been made out only if there has been 
a   wilful   disobedience   of   the   order   and   even 
though there may be disobedience, yet if the same 
does not reflect that it has been a conscious and 
wilful   disobedience,   a   case   for   contempt   cannot 
be   held   to   have   been   made   out.   In   fact,   if   an 
order is capable of more than one interpretation 
giving   rise   to   variety   of   consequences,   non­
compliance   with   the   same   cannot   be   held   to   be 
wilful   disobedience   of   the   order   so   as   to   make 
out   a   case   of   contempt   entailing   the   serious 
consequence   including   imposition   of   punishment. 
However,   when   the   courts   are   confronted   with   a 
question as to whether a given situation could be 
treated to be a case of wilful disobedience, or a 
case   of   a   lame   excuse,   in   order   to   subvert   its 
compliance, howsoever articulate it may be, will 
obviously   depend   on   the   facts   and   circumstances 
of a particular case; but while deciding so, it 
would   not   be   legally   correct   to   be   too 
speculative   based   on   assumption   as   the   Contempt 
of   Courts   Act,   1971   clearly   postulates   and 
emphasises   that   the   ingredient   of   wilful 
disobedience must be there before anyone  can be 
hauled up for the charge of contempt of a civil 
19. In Noor Saba v. Anoop Mishra and another2,  their 
Lordships   of   the   Supreme   Court   has   clearly   held   as 
“14.   To   hold   the   respondents   or   anyone   of   them 
(2013) 10 SCC 248
liable for contempt this Court has to arrive at a 
conclusion   that   the   respondents   have   wilfully 
disobeyed the order of the Court. The exercise of 
contempt jurisdiction is summary in nature and an 
adjudication   of   the   liability   of   the   alleged  
contemnor for wilful disobedience of the Court is 
normally   made   on   admitted   and   undisputed 
20. In light of the aforesaid principles of law laid 
down by their Lordships of Supreme Court, it has to be 
examined whether the Act of contemnors can be said to 
be wilful disobedience of order of this Court. 
21. It is well settled that once an order is passed 
by   the   competent   authority   on   the   basis   of   the 
directions issued by the Court, even if the order is 
erroneous,   it   gives   a   fresh   cause   of   action   to 
aggrieved person to seek redressal  in judicial forum 
in order to avail the opportunity of judicial review, 
but it cannot be considered to be wilful disobedience 
of   an   order   requiring   exercise   of   contempt 
jurisdiction   under   Section   12   of   the   Contempt   of 
Courts Act, 1971.
22. In  J.S.   Parihar   v.   Ganpat   Duggar   and   others 3, 
their   Lordships   of   the   Supreme   Court   held   that 
jurisdiction  to consider  the matter on  merits cannot 
be exercised in the contempt proceeding. Paragraph­ 6 
of the report states as under:­ 
(1996) 6 SCC 291
“6.........It is seen that once there is an order 
passed   by   the   Government   on   the   basis   of   the 
directions   issued   by   the   court,   there   arises   a 
fresh   cause   of   action   to   seek   redressal   in   an 
appropriate   forum.   The   preparation   of   the 
seniority   list   may   be   wrong   or   may   be   right   or 
may   or   may   not   be   in   conformity   with   the 
directions.   But   that   would   be   a   fresh   cause   of 
action   for   the   aggrieved   party   to   avail   of   the 
opportunity   of   judicial   review.   But   that   cannot 
be considered to be the willful violation of the 
order. After re­exercising the judicial review in 
contempt   proceedings,   a   fresh   direction   by   the 
learned   Single   Judge   cannot   be   given   to   redraw 
the seniority list. In other words, the learned 
Judge was exercising the jurisdiction to consider 
the matter on merits in the contempt proceedings. 
It would not be permissible under Section 12 of 
the Act.” 
23. In  P.R.   Toora   v.   Javed   Choudhury   &   Ors.4,  the 
Supreme   Court   reiterated   the   principle   of   law   as 
“3. Learned Additional Solicitor General for the 
respondents states that the appropriate order in 
this connection is passed on 22nd November 1999 
on the representation of the petitioner. If the 
petitioner   has   still   any   grievance   against   the 
said order he may pursue his remedy in accordance 
with law. These contempt proceedings are closed.”
24. In  Lalith   Mathur   v.   L.   Maheswara   Rao5,   their 
Lordships of the Supreme Court has clearly held that 
once   the   Court   direction   to   consider   the   employee's 
representation   was   complied   with   and  
representation   was   rejected   on   merits,   contempt 
petition would not be maintainable. Paragraph­4 states 
as under:­ 
“4.   The   High   Court   in   the   writ   petition   had 
JT 1999 (10) SC 392
(2000) 10 SCC 285
issued a direction for the consideration of the 
respondent’s   representation   by   the   State 
Government.   This   direction   was   carried   out   by 
the   State   Government   which   had   considered   and 
thereafter   rejected   the   representation   on 
merits.   Instead   of   challenging   the   order   in   a 
fresh   writ   petition   under   Article   226,   the 
respondent took recourse to contempt proceedings 
which did not lie as the order had already been 
complied with by the State Government which had 
considered the representation and rejected it on 
Thus, guided  by  the  principles  of law laid  down 
by     their   Lordships   of   the   Supreme   Court   in   above­
stated   cases,   it   is   quite   vivid   that   the   Court 
direction in Writ Appeal No. 135/2009 dated 15/06/2010 
(A.K.   Chibber   v.   Coal   India   Limited   and   others)   to 
consider   the   case   of   petitioner   at   par   with   the 
petitioner's   juniors   was   substantially   complied   with 
by the respondents/contemnors herein by rejecting the 
petitioner's   case   on   merit,   which   was   duly 
communicated to the petitioner, and if the petitioner 
is aggrieved against that order rejecting his case on 
merits,   the   remedy   available   to   him   would   be   to 
challenge   that   order   in   accordance   with   law   and   to 
seek judicial review of that order and correctness or 
otherwise   of     that   order   cannot   be   examined   in   this 
contempt   proceeding.   Thus,   this   is   not   a   case   where 
the rule issued by this Court under Section 12 of the 
Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 should be made absolute 
as   the   contempt   petitioner   has   utterly   failed   to 
establish disobedience of the order complained of and 
further   failed   to   establish   that   disobedience   of   the 
order was wilful. 
Consequently, rule issued on 15/03/2011 is hereby 
discharged.   The   contempt   petition   is   dismissed   and 
contempt   proceedings   against   the   respondents   No.   2   & 
3/contemnors herein are hereby dropped. However, it is 
open   to   the   contempt   petitioner   to   question   the 
legality   and   validity   of   the   order   dated   6­7/12/2010 
in accordance with  law.             


Once an order is passed on merit, on the basis of 
direction issued by the Court, contempt petition would 
not be maintainable under Section 12 of the Contempt 
of Courts Act. 

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