Even a legislative enactment cannot take away courts' power of contempt: SCtext_fields
New Delhi: Observing that the court's power of contempt can't be taken away even by legislative enactment, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held the chairperson of an NGO guilty of contempt for not depositing Rs 25 lakh for "scandalising and browbeating" the court.
"We are of the view that the contemnor is clearly guilty of contempt of court and his action to scandalise the court cannot be countenanced," the top court said.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M M Sundresh said the chairperson of NGO, Suraz India Trust, Rajiv Daiya has been "throwing mud" at all and sundry including the court, administrative staff and the state government.
"The power to punish for contempt is a constitutional power vested with this court which cannot be taken away even by a legislative enactment," the court said.
The top court issued notice to Daiya and directed him to be present on October 7 for a hearing of the sentence. With regard to the recovery of money, the bench said it can take place as arrears of land revenue.
The top court had issued contempt notice to Daiya as to why he should not be proceeded against and sentenced for his endeavour to scandalise the court.
Daiya had told the bench that he did not have the resources to pay the costs imposed by the apex court and would approach the President of India with a mercy plea.
The apex court was hearing an application filed by Daiya seeking recall of the apex court's 2017 judgement by which it had imposed costs of Rs 25 lakh on it for filing 64 PILs over the years without any success and "repeatedly misusing" the jurisdiction of the top court.
On May 1, 2017, the Supreme Court's three-judge bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India, J.S.Khehar had imposed an exemplary cost of Rs.25 lakh on the NGO, Suraz India Trust, for filing frivolous petitions, and wasting judicial time, and restrained the trust and its chairman, Rajiv Daiya, from filing any case, including PIL, in any court.
In February 2021, a Bench of Justices SK Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy had issued bailable warrants against Daiya for not depositing the cost of Rs. 25 lakh imposed on the NGO on the same issue.
In 2020, notice was issued to the NGO for not having deposited the cost imposed in view of the observations made in its order dated May 1, 2017. The Apex Court also required the disclosure of all movable and immovable assets of the original petitioner so that the costs can be recovered.
Directing Daiya to deposit the amount with a month's time, the Bench took seriously the manner in which Daiya had even ventured to the residence of Supreme Court judges, including that of the CJI, levelling various allegations against the Supreme Court Registry staff.
"To stop this practice, we direct Suraz India Trust will not file any case. Rajiv Dahiya was restrained from filing any public cause directly or indirectly...," the Bench, also comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice SK Kaul, passed the order after hearing the matter for more than three hours.
The Bench took note of all the 64 cases filed by Suraz IndiaTrust in which Daiya had levelled accusations against Judges in the name of public cause, without success.