New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that the court’s power of contempt cannot be taken away even by a legislative enactment.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh held the chairperson of an NGO guilty of contempt for not depositing Rs 25 lakh for “scandalising and browbeating” the apex court.
The bench said the Suraz India Trust Chairperson Rajiv Dahiya has been “throwing mud” at all — the court, administrative staff and the state government.
“We have little doubt that what the contemnor has been endeavouring is to have his way or, alternatively, I will throw mud at all and sundry, whether it be the court, its administrative staff or the state government so that people, apprehensive of this mud thrown, may back off. We refuse to back off and are clear in our view that we must take it to its logical conclusion,” the court said, in its judgment.
Stressing that the raison d’etre of contempt jurisdiction is to maintain the dignity of the institution of judicial forums, it said Dahiya is clearly guilty of contempt of court and added that it cannot approve his action to scandalise the court.
“The power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power vested in this court which cannot be abridged or taken away even by legislative enactment,” it said.
The bench said inappropriate statements, capable of lowering the dignity of a judge, are often ignored but where despite all latitude, a perennial litigant seeks to justify his existence by throwing mud at all and sundry, the court has to step in.
“We refuse to back off and are clear in our view that we must take it to its logical conclusion”, added the bench, citing that apologizes offered by Dahiya is just a charade.
The apex court has issued notice to Dahiya and directed him to be present on October 7, for hearing on the sentence. In connection with the recovery of money from Dahiya, the court said it can take place as arrears of land revenue.
Dahiya had told the bench about his inability to pay the cost imposed and cited lack of resources for the same. He had also submitted that he would approach the President with a mercy plea.
The bench said it is clear that Dahiya apparently made a profession of filing public interest petitions on subjects of which he may not know much and then seeking to scandalise the court to grant him relief failing which he will continue to scandalise the court.
The top court’s order came on Dahiya’s application seeking recall of its 2017 judgement, where cost of Rs 25 lakh, was imposed on him for filing 64 PILs over the years without any success.