7 Oct 2009

U.P. Chief Secretary summoned for contempt by Supreme Court

Being of the view that the previous orders of the Supreme Court seemed to have been violated by the Government of Uttar Pradesh in continuing the construction activity despite the clear prohibition by the Supreme Court, the Court has now directed the Chief Secretary of the Government of Uttar Pradesh to appear in person before the Court on the next date of hearing (4 November) for having allowed the construction despite the orders of the court, and also to respond as to why he should not be punished for contempt of Court.

The Supreme Court, in a detailed order and taking note of its earlier orders, in passing the order on the above terms rejected the submissions made on behalf of the Government of Uttar Pradesh in the following terms;

Mr. Harish N. Salve, learned senior advocate, representing the State of Uttar Pradesh plainly admitted that constructions were carried on at certain projects/sites after the undertaking was given to this Court on 8th September, 2009, and even after the Court passed the restraint order on 11th September, 2009.  As a matter of fact, he accepted that constructions were taking place yesterday and might be going on even as of now.  He, however, strenuously submitted that the projects/sites on which constructions were going on are not covered either by the undertaking given to the Court or the injunction granted by the Court on 11th September, 2009.  Mr. Salve submitted that Respondent No.1 was trying to  create a  confusion by representing that constructions took place after the undertaking and the order of injunction passed by the Court on projects/sites that were covered by the undertaking and the injunction.  We fail to see any scope for confusion.  The restraint order passed by this Court on 11th September, 2009, is in clear and unambiguous terms.  It also cannot be lost sight of that the restraint order was passed when the Court had felt that the undertaking given to it three days earlier was not being adhered to.  In those circumstances, we, prima facie, see no scope for any confusion.  Even assuming that there was any confusion in the minds of the concerned authorities of the State Government, the only course open to them was to approach the Court and seek clarifications.  We are, therefore, prima facie, of the view that it is a case where the order of this Court was consciously flouted by resorting to devious afterthought.  The admitted fact is that, notwithstanding the injunction order and the earlier undertaking, constructions have been going on at certain sites and projects.  To our mind, this fact alone justifies this Court to proceed further with a view to go to the heart of the matter.

Having heard learned counsel appearing on behalf of the parties and perused the affidavits filed on behalf of the Chief Secretary, State of Uttar Pradesh, `The Hindu', The Times of India', and `NDTC 24X7', rejoinder affidavits filed on behalf of  Respondent No.1 and  `The Hindu'  to the affidavit filed on behalf of the Chief Secretary, reply thereto filed by the Chief Secretary and having given our anxious consideration to the entire matter, we have no option but to hold that a strong prima facie case is made out for initiating a contempt proceeding against the Chief Secretary.  We, accordingly, proceed to do so.

Issue notice to the Chief Secretary, State of Uttar Pradesh, to show cause as to why he should not be proceeded against and punished for deliberate and conscious violation of the undertaking given to this Court on 8th September, 2009, and the restraint order passed by this Court on 11th September, 2009. ... Place the contempt matter on 4th November, 2009, on which date, the alleged contemnor is directed to remain present in court in-person.

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