18 Jul 2010

Action contrary to Court order invalid: Supreme Court

Holding that action taken contrary to an order passed by a court remains a nullity, the Supreme Court in a recent decision declared that the action of the State Government of allotting the law despite there being an interim order against such a move was not enforceable. We had covered a similar issue where we had pointed out the settled law that one much approach the court with clean hands. As a step further, the Supreme Court in this decision declared that even the actions which have been undertaken remain to be unenforceable in law if contrary to a court order.

The Bench explained the law in the following terms;

23. In Mulraj Vs. Murti Raghunathji Maharaj, AIR 1967 SC 1386, this Court considered the effect of action taken subsequent to passing of an interim order in its disobedience and held that any action taken in disobedience of the order passed by the Court would be illegal. Subsequent action would be a nullity. 
24. In Surjit Singh Vs. Harbans Singh, AIR 1996 SC 135, this Court while dealing with the similar issue held as under: 
“In defiance of the restraint order, the alienation/assignment was made. If we were to let it go as such, it would defeat the ends of justice and the prevalent public policy. When the Court intends a particular state of affairs to exist while it is in seisin of a lis, that state of affairs is not only required to be maintained, but it is presumed to exist till the Court orders otherwise. The Court, in these circumstances has the duty, as also the right, to treat the alienation/assignment as having not taken place at all for its purposes.”
25. In All Bengal Excise Licensees Association Vs. Raghabendra Singh & Ors, AIR 2007 SC 1386, this court held as under:
“A party to the litigation cannot be allowed to take an unfair advantage by committing breach of an interim order and escape the consequences thereof..... the wrong perpetrated by the respondents in utter disregard of the order of the High Court should not be permitted to hold good.”
26. In Delhi Development Authority Vs. Skipper Construction Co. (P) Ltd. & Anr. AIR 1996 SC 2005, this court after making reference to many of the earlier judgments held:
“On principle that those who defy a prohibition ought not to be able to claim that the fruits of their defiance are good, and not tainted by the illegality that produced them.”
27. In Gurunath Manohar Pavaskar Vs. Nagesh Siddappa Navalgund, AIR 2008 SC 901, this Court while dealing with the similar issues held that even a Court in exercise of its inherent jurisdiction under Section 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in the event of coming to the conclusion that a breach to an order of restraint had taken place, may bring back the parties to the same position as if the order of injunction has not been violated.
28. In view of the above, it is evident that any order passed by any authority in spite of the knowledge of the interim order of the court is of no consequence as it remains a nullity.

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