27 September 1996
Supreme Court


Case number: C.A. No.-003056-003056 / 1989
Diary number: 70274 / 1989
Advocates: ASHOK K. MAHAJAN Vs






DATE OF JUDGMENT:       27/09/1996




JUDGMENT:                       J U D G M E N T      M.K. MUKHERJEE. J.      The  instant  proceeding  for  contempt  stems  from  a petition filed by Prakash Lal Sharma under Section 13 of the East Punjab Urban Rent Restriction Act, 1949 before the Rent Controller, Chandigarh on September 9, 1985 seeking eviction of  the   respondent  herein   from  one   room  and  garage (hereinafter referred  to as  the ’suit  premises’)  on  the ground of  House No.  1572 sector  18-D Chandigarh. The Rent Controller allowed  the petition  and aggrieved  thereby the respondent filed an appeal which was dismissed. Against such dismissal he filed a revision petition in the High Court but without success.  Thereafter, with  the leave of this Court, he filed  an appeal,  being Civil  Appeal No.  3056 of  1989 which was  ultimately dismissed  by this Court on October 5, 1994 with the following order:       "Delay  condoned. We find no merit      in this appeal which is accordingly      dismissed. However, as agreed to by      both the  learned counsel,  time to      hand over vacant possession to Smt.      Rita Markandey in granted till 31st      March 1995.  This shall  be subject      to  the  usual  undertaking  to  be      filed   by   the   appellant-tenant      within four weeks from today."      On  the   respondent’s  failure   to  handover   vacant possession of  the suit premises on or before March 31, 1995 to Smt  Rita  Markanday  (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the petitioner), the  daughter of  Prakash Lal  Sharma, who  had died in the meantime, in terms of the above order she put in an application  for execution  of the  eviction order before the Rent  Controller, Chandigarh  in or  about the  month of May, 1995  On that  application a  notice was  issued to the respondent asking  him to  show cause why the eviction order should not  be executed.  In showing  cause  the  respondent asserted that  he was  in occupation  of  three  rooms,  one



garage, one store, One kitchen, one bathroom and a toilet on the ground  floor of  the house  in question and not only of the suit  premises -  and therefore  the eviction sought for was impermissible.  Other contentious issues of fact and law against the execution were also raised. Before, however,  the matter could be further pursued by the Rent Controller,  the petitioner  filed the petition, out of which the  instant proceeding  arises. In paragraph 8 of the petition the petitioner has averred, inter alia as follow:      "The contemnor was shown indulgence      by  this  court  by  giving  him  6      months time, but on the contrary he      was  by   his  conduct   flagrantly      misused    rather    abused,    the      indulgence of this Court firstly by      gaining 4  weeks time  to  file  an      undertaking and thereafter refusing      to file  the said  undertaking  and      simultaneously    contesting    the      execution     application     dated      29.5.1995 filed  by the  petitioner      in  return   filing  an   objection      petition on 17.7.1995. This conduct      of  the   contemnor/tenant  Firstly      gaining  4  weeks  time  from  this      Court for filing an undertaking and      thereafter  refusing   to  file  an      undertaking  is  palpable  act  and      omission  on   the  part   of   the      Contemnor which  amounts to willful      disobedience of the order dated 5th      October, 1994 passed by this Court.      On the  basis of the above averments the petitioner has contended that  the respondent  has  committed  contempt  by fulfil disobedience of the order of this Court dated October 5, 1994.  The other  ground, canvassed  by the petitioner in support of  her contention  that the respondent is liable to be punished for contempt, finds place in paragraph 12 of the petition which reads as under:      "That.......   in   the   objection      petition filed  by  the  contemnor-      respondent he  has  stated  therein      that he  is in  occupation of three      rooms, one  garage, one  store, one      kitchen and  a bathroom in addition      to one  toilet on  the ground floor      of the  disputed  house.  This  new      plea of  the petitioner is contrary      to his  pleadings before  the  Rent      Controller right  upto this Hon’ble      Court in Appeal. This is a specific      example of usurping of the property      of peaceful and law abiding citizen      by  a   contriving   and   scheming      property dealer. This specific plea      of the  petitioner that  he  is  in      occupation of  the above said three      rooms and  kitchen and toilets etc.      as  mentioned   in  his   objection      petition   as   contrary   to   his      affidavit   filed    before    this      Hon’able Court  on 10th March, 1989      in  the   Special  Leave   Petition      (Civil) No.  1117/89 the  grant  of      which gave rise to Civil appeal No.



    3056 of  1989.  (The  copy  of  the      Supplementary  Affidavit  filed  on      10.3.1989   filed    before    this      Hon’able Court  is annexed  here to      and marked  as ANNEXURE R-4. In the      para 3 thereof the appellant/tenant      has specifically  stated that nor I      have any other residential premises      for my  residence except  one  room      and garage  in  the  suit  premises      owned by the respondent herein.      Therefore  in  these  circumstances      the respondent  has belatedly taken      possession of  the other portion of      the suit  premises forcibly  during      the  pendency   of  Appeal  in  the      Supreme  Court   and  has   grossly      misused  the   concession  of  stay      orders given by this Hon’able Court      during the course of litigation and      subsequently now  put up a new case      at the time of objection petition"      According to  the petitioner  the respondent  took such forcible possession  to circumvent the implementation of the order of  this Court  dated October 5, 1994 and therefore it also amounts to contempt of Court.      After perusing  the petition this Court issued a notice to the respondent asking him to show cause why he should not be committed  for contempt of Court and in response there to the filed  an affidavit pleading that the garage in question was vacated  long  back  and  possession  of  the  same  was delivered to the deceased landlord (Parkash Lal Sharma). His other plea  is that  as he  had not filed any undertaking in terms of  the order  of this  Court he could not held liable for contempt  for not vacating the suit premises and that in absence of any such undertaking he was entitled to raise all legally permissible  objections against  the application for execution.      Since the  petitioner’s Counsel  strongly  refuted  the contention of  the respondent  that possession of the garage had been  given long  back and  since the respondent did not disclose as  to whether  the room  of the  suit premises was vacated or  not, this  Court passed  an order on October 11, 1995 directing  the learned  counsel for  the respondent  to report by  October 16, 1995 as to whether the respondent had handed over  vacant possession  of the  suit premises to the petitioner. When  the matter  was taken  up for  hearing  on October 16, 1995, the respondent, who was present along with his Counsel,  stated that  he had  vacated the suit premises and possession  was delivered  on October  14, 1995  to Shri Darshan Lal  Wadhera, the  power of  attorney holder  of the petitioner, in  presence of  Shri G. S. Arshi, Advocate, who had been  appointed as  the local  Commissioner by  the Rent Controller (Sub  Judge First  Class, Chandigarh). Mr Darshan Lal Wadhera,  who was  also present  in Court,  on the other hand  asserted,   through  his  learned  counsel,  that  the possession had  not been  handed over to him and that though he was  asked to put his lock on the garage - which he did - he was  later made  to open  the lock again on the asking of the respondent  on October  14, 1995 and that the possession of the room and garage had not been delivered him till date.      In view  of  their  contradictory  stands,  this  Court directed both of them to file their respective affidavits by October 17, 1995 giving factual position and the sequence of events of  October 14, 1995. The Rent Controller, Chandigarh



was also  asked to  forward to  this Court  the copy  of the report of  the Commissioner  appointed by him along with his comments regarding the handing over of the vacant possession of the  suit premises. In compliance with the said direction both the  parties filed  their respective affidavits and the Rent Controller also submitted his report, along with a copy of the report of the Commissioner appointed by him. From the report  of  the  Rent  Controller  it  was  found  that  the respondent did  not hand  over the  possession of  the  suit premises to  the petitioner  till October  14, 1995 and that even before  the local  Commissioner he  had tried  to  give possession of  the garage only and not the room in question. The report  further disclosed  that the  possession  of  the garage was  also not  delivered to the decree holder and the garage was again locked up by the respondent at 5.30 P.M. on October 14, 1995. In other words, the report fully supported the  assertions   of  the   constituted  attorney   of   the petitioner. As from the report of the local Commissioner and the comments  of the  Rent Controller  this Court was of the opinion, Primafacie,  that the  respondent had not only made an incorrect  statement in  this Court  but  also  filed  an affidavit falsely stating that he had handed over the vacant possession of the suit premises in compliance with the order of this  Court dated  October 5,  1994, a  Rule  was  issued asking him  to show  cause why  he should not a punished for contempt of  Court an  further why  proceeding should not be initiated  against   him   for   committing   perjury.   The respondent, who  was personally  present in  the Court along with his counsel, took notice of the Rule and prayed for two weeks time to file his reply thereto. The prayer was allowed and the  matter was  listed on November 10, 1995 for further proceedings on  which date the respondent was directed to be personally present.  On the  date so  fixed  the  respondent however did  not  appear  personally  as  directed  but  Mr. Devender Verma,  a learned  Advocate appeared on his behalf. He submitted  that the  respondent had  met with an accident and as  such was  not in  a position to attend the Court. In support of  this contention he filed some outdoor tickets of a hospital. As, from the outdoor tickets it was not possible to ascertain  whether they referred to the respondent and as no application  was filed  on his behalf seeking adjournment or exemption  from personal  appearance and  his Advocate-on Record was also not present and Shri Verma had not filed any vakalatnama on  his behalf,  this Court  issued  a  bailable warrant in the sum of Rs 5,000/- with one surety of the like amount to  ensure the  presence/production of the respondent before this Court on November 24, 1995. pursuant to the said order the  respondent was  arrested on November 17, 1995 and released on  bail after  he had  furnished personal bond and one Sandeep Bhardwaj furnished bail bonds on his behalf. The matter however could not be taken up for hearing on November 24, 1995 and was adjourned to February 6, 1996.      In the  meantime -  on January  8, 1996 to be precise - the respondent  filed an  additional affidavit  before  this Court wherein he admitted that he committed a mistake in not handing over  the possession  of the  suit premises  to  the landlord in  terms of  the order  of this  Court. He further submitted that he had no intention whatsoever to disobey the order of  this Court  and his  mistake was  attributable  to wrong advice  given to  him. As  regards the  question as to whether he  had delivered  vacant  possession  of  the  suit premises he had this to say:-      " It is respectfully submitted that      on  14.10.95,   itself  the   local      Commissioner visited  the contemner



    and that  from the  report  of  the      commissioner,  it  is  quite  clear      that the  contemner was  absolutely      willing  to   handover  the  vacant      possession of the disputed premises      and that it was the Attorney holder      of  the   landlord,  who   did  not      produce the  order of this Hon’able      Court before  the Commissioner.  It      is further  respectfully  submitted      at this  stage the  Attorney holder      of the  landlord even  put his  own      lock  on   the  garage,   which  is      admitted by him in their affidavit.      It    is    further    respectfully      submitted     that     when     the      Commissioner left without resolving      the  problem   of   delivery,   the      contemner  thereafter,  immediately      disassociated   itself   from   the      premises.     It     is     further      respectfully  submitted   that  the      disputed premises  is very  much in      possession of  the Attorney  of the      Landlord."      In terms  of the  earlier order  of this Court when the matter was  taken up  for hearing  on February  6, 1996  the respondent again  absented himself  and his  learned counsel was also  not  present.  In  such  circumstances  the  Court cancelled the  bonds earlier furnished by the respondent and his surety and issued non-bailable warrant of arrest against the former.  Both the  respondent and Shri Sandeep Bhardwaj, who stood  surety for him, were also asked to show cause why the  amount  of  bonds  furnished  by  them  should  not  be forfeited. The Rent Controller was also asked to inform this Court on or before March 12, 1996 whether the respondent had handed over  the vacant  possession of the suit premises and he was  directed  that  in  case  possession  had  not  been delivered he should ensure that the possession was delivered to the  petitioner, through  police help,  if necessary.  In compliance with  the  said  direction  the  Rent  Controller submitted a  report stating  that the possession of the suit premises had  been given  to the  decree-holder through  her attorney Shri  Darshan Wadhera  on March  7, 1996 as per the order of  this Court  dated February  6, 1996.  On the  date fixed (March 12, 1996) the respondent, who was brought under arrest, submitted  through his learned counsel that he would file an affidavit in compliance with order dated February 6, 1996 within  two days and an additional affidavit explaining the circumstances  for his  absence on  February 6,  1996. A further prayer  was made  on his behalf for releasing him on bail. Prayer  of the  respondent for filing of the affidavit was allowed  and he  was directed  to be released on bail on his furnishing  personal bond  in the sum of Rs. 10,000/- to the  satisfaction   of  the   Chief   Judicial   Magistrate, Chandigarh. A  fresh notice  was also  directed to be served upon surety  Shri Sandeep  Bhardwaj as  the  earlier  notice could not  be served.  The affidavits were thereafter filed. On the  next date fixed, that is on March 26, 1996, a prayer was made on behalf of the respondent seeking further time to file his affidavit and the prayer was allowed and the matter was fixed  for April  17, 1996.  Shri Bhardwaj also filed an affidavit  explaining   the  circumstances   for  which  the respondent could  not be  present personally  on February 6, 1996. In  his affidavit  the respondent  submitted  that  he



could not  appear on  February 6,  1996 as  he did  not  get timely information  from his  counsel. He  further submitted that  his   absence  on   that  date   was  bona   fide  and unintentional and  he may  be pardoned.  The respondent also expressed sincere  regrets, offered   unconditional  apology and prayed that a lenient view my be taken of his failings.      From the  above narration  of facts  it is evident that the appellant  did not  comply with  the order of this Court dated October  5, 1994  and that  his assertion  in both his affidavits filed  on September  28, 1995 and January 8, 1996 that he  had handed  over  vacant  possession  of  the  suit premises to  the petitioner  on October  14, 1995  was false for, as  the report  of the Rent Controller- discloses, such possession was  given only  on March  7, 1996. The question, therefore, that  now falls  for our determination is whether the respondent is liable to be punished for contempt of this Court of his above commissions and omissions.      Law  is  well  settled  that  if  any  party  gives  an undertaking to  the Court  to vacate the premises from which he is liable to be evicted under the orders of the Court and there is a clear and deliberate breach thereof it amounts to civil  contempt   but  since,   in  the  present  case,  the respondent did  not file any undertaking as envisaged in the order of  this Court  the question of his being punished for breach thereof  does not  arise. However,  in our considered view even  in a  case where  no such undertaking is given, a party to  litigation may be held liable for such contempt if the Court  is induced  to sanction  a particular  course  of action or  inaction on  the basis  of the  representation of such a  party and  the Court ultimately finds that the party never  intended  to  act  on  such  representation  or  such representation  was   false.  In  other  words,  if  on  the representation  of  the  respondent  herein  the  Court  was persuaded to  pass the order dated October 5, 1995 extending the time  for vacation  of the suit premises, he may be held guilty of  contempt of Court, notwithstanding non furnishing of the  undertaking, if  it is found that the representation was false  and the respondent never intended to act upon it. However, the  respondent herein  cannot be  held liable  for contempt on  this score  also  for  the  order  in  question clearly indicates  that it  was passed  on the  basis of the agreement between  the parties and not on the representation of  the  respondent  made  before  the  Court.  It  was  the petitioner who agreed to the unconditional extension of time by four  weeks for  the respondent  to vacate and subsequent extension of  time on  his giving  an undertaking  and  this Court only  embodied the  terms of  the agreement so arrived at, in the order. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the respondent cannot in any way be held liable for contempt for alleged breach of the above order. As regards the contention of the  petitioner  that  by  trespassing  into  some  other portion of  the house in question during the pendency of the appeal the  respondent has  committed contempt  of Court, we are  unable   to  accept  the  same:  firstly  because,  the respondent’s claim is that he has been in occupation thereof since long  and this  contentious issue  cannot  be  decided solely on  the basis  of affidavits and secondly because the above issue  does not  fall within  the limited scope of our enquiry in  this proceeding  which centres  round the  order dated October 5, 1994.      To seek  an answer  to the other question as to whether by  making   false  statements  before  this  Court  in  the affidavits filed,  the  respondent  has  committed  criminal contempt, we  may profitably  refer to  the judgment of this Court in  Dhananjay Sharma Vs. State of Haryana 1995 (3) SCC



757, in which one of us (justice Dr. A.S. Anand) observed :      "Section 2(c)  of the  Contempt  of      Courts Act,  1971 (for  short  Act)      defines criminal  contempt as  "the      publication  (whether   by   words,      spoken or  written or  by signs  or      visible      representation      or      otherwise) of  any  matter  or  the      doing of  any other  act whatsoever      to  (1)   scandalise  or   tend  to      scandalise  or  lower  or  tend  to      lower the  authority of  any Court;      (2) prejudice  or interfere or with      the   due    course   of   judicial      proceedings  or  (3)  interfere  or      tend to interfere with, or obstruct      or    tend    to    obstruct    the      administration of  justice  in  any      other manner.  Thus, conduct  which      has the  tendency to interfere with      the administration  of  justice  or      the   due    course   of   judicial      proceedings    amounts    to    the      commission  of  criminal  contempt.      The swearing of false affidavits in      judicial proceedings  not only  has      the tendency of causing obstruction      in  the   due  course  of  judicial      proceedings  but   has   also   the      tendency to  impede,  obstruct  and      interfere with  the  administration      of justice.  The  filing  of  false      affidavits in  judicial proceedings      in any  Court of  law  exposes  the      intention of the party concerned in      perverting the  course of  justice.      The due  process of  law cannot  be      permitted to  be slighted  nor  the      majesty of law be made a mockery of      by such acts or conduct on the part      of the parties to the litigation or      even while  appearing as witnesses.      Anyone  who  makes  an  attempt  to      impede or undermine or obstruct the      free flow of the unsoiled stream of      justice by  resorting to the filing      of false evidence, commits criminal      contempt liable to be dealt with in      accordance with the Act".      The above  observations dovetail  into the facts of the instant case,  for there  cannot be any manner of doubt that by filing  false affidavits the respondent had not only made deliberate attempts  to impede the administration of justice but succeeded  in his  attempts in  delaying the delivery of possession. We,  therefore, hold  the respondent  guilty  of criminal contempt of Court. That brings us to the question whether the respondent should be discharged  in view  of the  unconditional apology he has offered in  the affidavit  he lastly  filed in this Court or punished. We  do  not  find  the  apology  tendered  by  the respondent to  be genuine  and bona  fide for in his earlier affidavit filed  on January  8, 1996  he had  also offered a similar unconditional apology but falsely reiterated that he had vacated  the suit  premises on  November 14,  1995.  The record however  shows that  following his arrest pursuant to



the  non-bailable   warrant  issued   by  this   Court,  the respondent was in custody for some days till he was released on bail  under orders of this Court. Considering this aspect of the  matter and  fact that  he was now handed over vacant possession of  the suit premises, we do not wish to send him behind the  bars again  by imposing substantive sentence. At the same  time we  feel that he should be punished with fine not only  for the wrong done by him but also to deter others from filing  such false  affidavits. We, therefore, sentence him to  pay a  fine or  Rs. 2000/-, in default of payment of which he  will suffer simple imprisonment for one month. The fine, if  realised, shall  be  paid  to  the  petitioner  as compensation. The Rule is thus made absolute. As regards  the notices  issued for  the forfeiture  of  the bonds executed  by the  respondent and  his surety  for  the failure of  the former  to appear  on a date fixed we do not wish to  pursue   the matter  further for  we find  that the respondent has  given a satisfactory explanation of his such absence. we  also drop  the case  for proceeding against the respondent for  perjury in  view of  the punishment  imposed upon him in the contempt case.