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Supreme court: mere delay in complying with the court’s order doesn’t amount to contempt unless deliberate

Supreme Court recently held that a mere delay in complying with the court’s order does not amount to contempt of court unless it is done deliberately.

“We are 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.” The court said.

The court was dealing with an appeal filed by an IAS officer who was convicted by the high court for contempt and was imposed a fine of Rs. 500. The appellant had eventually complied with the orders but there was a delay in compliance. the court contended that the absence of any explanation for the delay would amount to a wilful and deliberate violation of the order of the Court.

Aggrieved from the high court’s order, the appellant moved to the Supreme Court.

The apex court contended that mere delay in complying with the order unless there is a wilful or deliberate act by alleged contemnors would not attract the provisions of contempt of courts act.

“The proceedings 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.” The order stated.

Thus, the appeal was allowed and the impugned order of the high court was set aside.

Case title- 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 & ANR.

Written by Shagun Behal

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