"I realise that some of my criticisms may be mistaken; but to refuse to criticize judgements for fear of being mistaken is to abandon criticism altogether... If any of my criticisms are found to be correct, the cause is served; and if any are found to be incorrect the very process of finding out my mistakes must lead to the discovery of the right reasons, or better reasons than I have been able to give, and the cause is served just as well."

-Mr. HM Seervai, Preface to the 1st ed., Constitutional Law of India.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Recent Judgments

Punishment for civil contempt have a public policy element. Apology cannot be a defence

C. Elumalai & Ors. v. A.G.L. Irudayaraj & Anr. CONTEMPT PETITION NO.118 OF 2007 IN SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (C) NO.19924 OF 2006. Date of Judgment 20-03-09

The court held that timing of apology and its nature are relevant considerations in a comtempt action. An apology, unconditional it may be, at a stage when the contemnor is sure that the court is about to punish should fetch no leniency. Apology cannot be a weapon of defence. (L.D. Jaikwal v. State of U.P. 1984 (3) SCC 405 and T.V. Godavarman Thirumalpad v. Ashok Khot 2006(5) SCC 1)

To prove contempt, a wilful disobedience need to be established. Wilful disobedience is understood as "an act or omission which is done voluntarily and with the specific intent to do something the law forbids or with the specific intent to fail to do something the law requires to be done, that is to say, with bad purpose either to disobey or to disregard the law." The ingredients are evil intent, bad motive and the action need to be judged in the factual context. ( Ashok Paper Kamgar Union v. Dharam Godha (2003) 11 SCC 1, Kapildeo Prasad Sah v. State of Bihar 1999 (7) SCC 569)

Punishing for contempt has a public policy element that the judgments of the court shall not remain mere verbose expressions. The court found contempt in this case. Directed payment of Rs. 2,00,000/- by each violators as exemplary cost which shall add to the corpus of National Legal Service Authority, failing which the contemnors will secure imprisonment three months.

Elaborate discussion on the admissiblity of dying declaration

Jaishree Anant Khandekar v. State of Maharashtra. CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 1094 OF 2006. Date of Judgment 23-03-09

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