The Supreme Court in the case Sri L.V. Subrahmanyam, IAS, Principal Secretary, Medical and Health Department Government Of Andhra Pradesh versus The Registrar General, High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad, For The State of Telangana And For The State Of Andhra Pradesh And Anr. observed that the mere delay in complying with the order of the court would not amount to committing contempt of court.
The bench comprising of Justice B.R. Gavai, Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, and Justice Sandeep Mehta in the case observed and has stated that this court is of the view that mere delay in complying with the order, unless there is a deliberate or wilful act on the part of the alleged contemnors would not attract the provisions of Contempt of Courts Act.
In the present case, the court was dealing with the petition of an IAS officer, who was convicted by the High Court for wilful and deliberate violation of the order of the court. The court has imposed an amount of Rs. 500/- fine as a punishment.
The court stated that it being worthwhile to mention that the order of which contempt was alleged was complied with but there was a delay in compliance of the same.
Therefore, High Court in the order observed that in the absence of any explanation for the delay, it would amount to a wilful and deliberate violation of the order of the Court.
However, the officer has preferred a Civil Appeal before the Supreme Court, while challenging the order of the High Court.
The court held while terming the proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act as quasi-judicial proceedings that unless there is a deliberate or wilful act being committed by the contemnors while complying with the order of the court, the mere delay in complying with the same would not attract the provisions of the Contempt of Courts Act. Further, the court observed that the proceedings initiated under the Contempt of Courts Act are quasi-judicial in nature and therefore as the Court comes to a conclusion that the act was neither deliberate or wilful, it could not have convicted the appellants for Contempt of Courts Act.
Accordingly, the court allowed the appeal of the officer and has set aside the impugned order of the High Court.