Special Tribunal deemed court for contempt proceedings: HC

 J&K High Court, Srinagar
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh Thursday ruled that J&K Special Tribunal should be deemed to be a court subordinate to it for initiating appropriate proceedings.

While allowing a challenge to initiation of contempt proceedings by the J&K Special Tribunal against the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) authorities with regard to a building permission case, a bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar said: “The J&K Special Tribunal is not a toothless body altogether and is possessed of sufficient powers to deal with the citizens who dare to commit its contempt.”

However, the court said it was for the legislature to make a necessary amendment to confer upon the Tribunal specifically the power to punish for contempt.

The court pointed out that the Administrative Tribunals constituted under the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, National Company Law Tribunal and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal constituted under the Companies Act have been specifically conferred the powers to punish for contempt of itself.

The court said that this power was akin and identical to the power conferred upon the High Courts under Article 215 of the Constitution of India and Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act.

The court noted that while the tribunal was not vested with any power, directly or indirectly, to punish for contempt in relation to itself or any member thereof, it said under Rule 21 of the Jammu and Kashmir Special Tribunal Rules, 1986, the tribunal is conferred the power of civil court to punish a person for contempt in relation to itself or any member thereof.

“Since the civil court is not vested with any power to punish a person for contempt in relation to itself, as such, such power should be understood to mean the power conferred upon a civil court under Order 39 Rule 2-A of the Code of Civil Procedure, to punish for disobedience of interim injunctions passed by a civil court under Rules 1 and 2 of Order 39 of the Code of Civil Procedure only,” the court said.

The court said it would mean that the tribunal too should have jurisdiction to punish a person for disobedience of its interim orders of injunction passed to maintain the equilibrium or to preserve the lis (complaint or petition).

“The tribunal shall be deemed to be a “court” subordinate to the High Court for the purposes of Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act and, therefore, shall be well within its powers to refer an appropriate case to the High Court for initiating appropriate proceedings against the violators of its orders or against those who commit its criminal contempt,” the court said.

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