Time limit to file contempt of Supreme Court order
Many years back we had a license for manufacture of excisable goods issued by state government.
The business was carried out by a partnership firm for years until due to disputes some partners were forced to retire while others remained. At some point a government officer ordered reconstitution o the partnership. And this order was upheld by the HC.
However in a Writ petition in Supreme Court filed by my cousin, an existing partner, challenged the High court order which ordered deletion of named of retiring partners.
The Supreme Court upheld the petition prayer filed by my cousin. The honorable Supreme Court held that not a government official but only a trial court could decide after a fresh trial which names could be deleted. Now two managing partners who want the names of other partners deleted ( including mine) allegedly procured an order from the Excise minister who ordered deletion of names of the partners from the firm despite SC order! It appears that the minister was biased for obvious reasons. I also believe the two partners may have not informed the minister about the SC order otherwise he may have never dared do such a thing.
The excise minister may have violated Supreme Court order thereby committed contempt of court since Supreme Court in the month of April 2014 had clearly held that only a Trial court could decide deletion issue after a full trial, and not a minister or official.
The alleged order took place in August 2014(which contravenes SC order of April 2014)
MY QUESTION is: How much is the time limit to file contempt of Court against these people who appear to have no regard or respect for law and constitution and have blatantly disregarded and flouted the apex court's order thereby committing contempt of SC apart from violating other sections of IPC and CrPC. Is it ok if I file contempt petition say in February 2015? Will it be tenable?
Please advise. Many thanks in advance
Asked in Criminal Law from Nagpur, Maharashtra
It would be fine to file contempt petition in February 2015 as the time limit to file a Contempt of Court is 1 year from the time the alleged act of contempt has occured.
The fact that the minister was unaware of the Supreme Court directive would be no excuse. He will be obligated to explain an d would be responsible for his action.
Therefore you can move the petition any date before August 2015.
There are two aspects of the matter.One law of limitation and another unjustified delay in approaching court.Under law of Limitation as provided in the Act, contempt petition can be filed within one year from the date of occurrence or commission of contempt and another aspect is that why petition is not filed as soon as contempt is committed within reasonable period.
Advocate, New Delhi
1. Against whom do you want to file Contempt Petition?
2. Is it the Excise Minister? Did he know about the Apex Court Order?
3. If not, then how can he be charged with contempt of Court?
4. Write a letter to the said minister enclosing the Order Sheet of the Supreme Court calling upon him to withdraw his order within 15 days thereof otherwise you will be compelled to file contempt petition against him,
5. If he fails or neglects to withdraw his said Order, file a W. P. before the High Court aagainst his impugned Order
Under Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act,1971, no court shall initiate any proceedings of contempt, either on its own motion or otherwise, after the expiry of a period of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed."
Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act does not provide a period of limitation but lays down a condition as a pre-requisite to the exercise of the Courts power under the said Act.
Dineshbhai A.Parikh Vs.Kirpalu Co.Operative Housing Society, AIR 1980 :- Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act places an absolute fetter on the power of the Court to initiate proceedings for contempt after the expiry of 1 year from the day on which Contempt is alleged to have been committed.
Section 5 of the Limitation Act would be applicable to cases arising out of Contempt of Courts Act,1971. An delay of more then one year may be condoned by the court if reasonable grounds for delay exists.
1. If the minister has not been informed about the SC order then he has not committed contempt of court.
2. The SC order has to be brought to the notice of the minister concerned so that he can comply with it. You may, as advised by Mr.Ganguly, write to the minister and ask him to obey the SC order. If he fails to do so he can certainly be prosecuted for contempt of court.
Inform the minister concernedn regarding the order of the supreme court, so that compliance can take place and give some time limit for compliance. However if even after that it is not done nor any information had been received from the minister as to the action taken by him, contempt of Court petition can be filed. Limitation is 1 year from the date the contempt is alleged to have been committed.
As per section 20 of Contempt of Courts Act,1971 the limitation is one year.
20. Limitation for actions for contempt.—No court shall initiate any proceedings of contempt, either on its own motion or otherwise, after the expiry of a period of one year from the date on which the contempt is alleged to have been committed.
Advocate, New Delhi
The limitation period for filing contempt petition is one year but you can file a petition to condone the delay with cogent reason