Wednesday, December 25, 2013

HC holds father-son duo guilty of contempt of court, sends them to jail for six months

RAGHAV OHRI : I E : Chandigarh, Tue Dec 24 2013, 04:15 hrs

PEEVED with the "consistent contemptuous conduct" of two residents of Panchkula, a father-son duo, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has imprisoned them for six months, holding them guilty of contempt of court.

The two after having "defaulted" on a loan not only "misbehaved" with a lawyer, an officer of the court, but also "manhandled" officers appointed by a lower court to prepare an inventory of the stock lying in the factory owned by the two contemnors.

The court has also taken strong note of the "misconduct" of the duo with the presiding officer of the Debts Recovery Tribunal (DRT) and concealing material facts from the High Court.

A division bench headed by Justice Hemant Gupta has come down heavily on Rajinder Kumar Chauhan and Ravi Chauhan for their "cumulative misconduct". The "unconditional" apology tendered by the duo did not cut ice with the bench which dubbed it "technical apology with a view to evade consequences of thee proceedings".

Interestingly, the father-son duo had also thrown challenge to the jurisdiction of the High Court wherein they had argued that the DRT "is not a court subordinate" to the High Court. Proprietors of M/s Raj Transmission Engineering Limited, the two had raised a loan of over Rs 26 crore from Allahabad Bank in 2009.
Since they "defaulted" on loan, a notice was served by the bank in July 2011 for securitisation and reconstruction of financial assets. Aggrieved, the duo moved the DRT challenging the notice wherein the bank moved an application for appointment of a local commissioner and other officers for making an inventory of machinery, stocks and other goods in the factory. A lawyer and other officers were appointed for the task by the DRT.
The Local Commissioner (a lawyer), in his report given to the DRT, submitted that the day he and other officers visited the factory, the duo misbehaved with him and manhandled other officers. The commissioner submitted that the two also made adverse remarks against the presiding officer of the tribunal and compelled the officers to delete the pictures from their cameras taken by them as evidence. It was also submitted that they were roughed up by the employees of the duo.
Following this, the contemnors moved an application before the presiding officer stating that they "were not getting natural justice" and that they were "not satisfied with the intention of the Tribunal". Recording the "disrespect" shown to him, the presiding officer recused from the case. The two then moved the High Court without disclosing the fact that their application against the prosecution was dismissed by the tribunal.
Dismissing their original petition, a division bench had taken note of the misconduct and initiated criminal contempt of court proceedings. Awarding six-month imprisonment, the court has also slapped a penalty of Rs 2,000 on the two.

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