N. K. Janu, Deputy Director Social Forestry Division, Agra and Others vs Lakshmi Chandra - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2019

Shri N. K. Janu, Deputy Director Social Forestry Division, Agra and Others vs Lakshmi Chandra - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2019 - 


On 10th April, 2019, in the case of Shri N. K. Janu, Deputy Director Social Forestry Division, Agra and Others v. Lakshmi Chandra [Civil Appeal No. 3740 of 2019], wherein the respondent had filed contempt petition alleging violation of a High Court order dated 23-10-2008 when his claim for regularisation of service was not accepted by the Department, it was held that “once an order has been passed by the Department, it was open to the respondent to challenge the said order by way of a Writ Petition, but the Contempt Jurisdiction could not be invoked.” The Supreme Court observed that the order dated 23.10.2008 “was to consider the case of the respondent for regularization of his services and for payment of minimum regular pay scale” and since the appellants had “considered the claim of regularization and/or payment of minimum of pay scale, the only remedy of the respondent was by way of the Writ Petition.” It was held that the High Court “exceeded the Contempt Jurisdiction to compel the officers of the State to appear in court and in fact, the High Court travelled much beyond” the orders passed on 23.10.2008.


In the facts and circumstances of the case, the Supreme Court came to the finding that “the grievance regarding regularization of the service” “could not have been taken up in Contempt proceedings”, when such issue had “attained finality in the High Court.” Having said so, the Supreme Court came to the further finding that “the High Court was not justified in passing orders from time to time to secure presence of the officers” observing that “the officers of the State discharge public functions and duties” and “merely because an order has been passed, it does not warrant their personal presence.”


It was further observed that “summoning of officers to the court to attend proceedings, impinges upon the functioning of the officers and eventually it is the public at large who suffer on account of their absence from the duties assigned to them. The practice of summoning officers to court is not proper and does not serve the purpose of administration of justice in view of the separation of powers of the Executive and the Judiciary. If an order is not legal, the Courts have ample jurisdiction to set aside such order and to issue such directions as may be warranted in the facts of the case.” Accordingly, on facts, it was held that the entire proceedings in the Contempt Application were “wholly unjustified and in excess of jurisdiction vested with the Contempt Court.”

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