Disobedience of Court Order - Guilty persons directed to pay fine of Rs 1.40 crores

Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 Section 357 Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 Section 12 Bail of accused (a legislature) cancelled by Court - After cancellation of bail two doctors of private hospital gave medical asylum to accused for 527 days - It is violation of Judgment of court - Unconditional apology of Doctor accepted - Doctors directed to pay a fine of L 1.40 crores.

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

Before:- Dipak Misra, A.M. Khanwilkar and Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, JJ.
Conmt.Pet.(C) No. 374 of 2014 in Crl. A. No. 1834 of 2013. D/d. 25.4.2017.

Sita Ram - Petitioners
Versus
Balbir @ Bali - Respondents

For the Petitioners :- Rishi Malhotra, Advocate.
For the Respondents :- R. Balasubramanian, Nalin Kohli, Ms. Anindita Pujari, Ananya Mishra, Ms. Aarti Sharma, Advocates.
For the (State of Haryana) :- Davender Kumar Saini, AAG, Ms. Monika Gusain, Ms. Indu Malhotra, Sr. Adv., Gagan Gupta, Advocates.

ORDER
The present contempt petition was initiated under Section 12 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (for brevity "the Act") on the ground that there had been violation of the judgment and order dated 24th October, 2013 passed by this Court in Criminal Appeal No.1834 of 2013.
We need not advert to the facts in details suffice it to say that the contempt proceedings have been adjudicated vide order dated 15th December, 2016. The relevant portion of the order is reproduced below:-
    "In our view, the Medical Professionals namely Dr.Munish Prabhakar and Dr.K.S. Sachdev extended medical asylum to the respondent without there being any reason or medical condition justifying prolonged admission of the respondent as an indoor patient as a cover to defeat the Orders passed by this Court and the Trial Court, as stated above and thereby aided and assisted the respondent in violating the Order of this Court. By such conduct these Medical Professionals have obstructed administration of justice.
    We thus hold that the respondent guilty of having violated the Order dated 24.10.2013 passed by this Court and for having obstructed administration of justice. We also hold Dr.Munish Prabhakar and Dr.K.S. Sachdev guilty for having helped the respondent in his attempts and thereby obstructing administration of justice. Having held so, we could straightaway have imposed appropriate punishment under the Act. However, we deem it appropriate to grant one more opportunity to these contemnors. The respondent has not filed any affidavit nor tendered an apology. At the same time for Dr.K.S. Sachdev, Managing Director of the company that owns the hospital is said to be 76 years of age. Considering the fact that these are medical professional with sufficient standing, in our view ends of justice would be met if one more opportunity is granted to them to present their view on the issue of punishment. In the circumstances, we direct presence of these three contemnors on January 2, 2017. The respondent is in custody and therefore appropriate production warrant shall be issued under the signature of Registrar of this Court ensuring presence of the respondent before this Court. The concerned police is directed to facilitate such production of the respondent. The contemnors can also present their views and make appropriate submission in writing on or before December 23, 2016."
2. When the matter was again listed on 2nd January, 2017, the Court passed the following order:
    "Balbir-Respondent No.1 is present in custody. He submits that he is unable to afford the services of a counsel to argue his case. He seeks a direction for providing free legal assistance to him. We request Ms. Indu Malhotra, learned senior counsel to appear and assist us on behalf of the said respondent. She shall have the liberty to avail the services of any Advocate on record to brief her properly. The Registry shall furnish a set of paper books to the briefing counsel of Ms. Malhotra. The briefing counsel and Ms.Malhotra shall be paid usual fee payable to the legal aid counsel in such matters.
    Mr. Dushyant A.Dave, learned senior counsel for respondents No.2 and 3 submits that the respondents place themselves on the mercy of the court and that apart from offering an unconditional apology for what has been found against them, they are ready and willing to offer free medical aid to 10% of their intake capacity of their hospital to deserving poor patients. He further submits that the said respondents are willing to provide medical services and assistance to such class of under privileged and disadvantaged sections of the society as may be identified for that purpose by this Court or by any other authority or agency. He seeks time to file an affidavit on the above lines. Let the needful be done by Mr.Dave within two weeks with an advance copy to learned counsel for the complainant who may respond to the same within one week thereafter.
3. The matter was again listed on 6th February, 2017. The relevant part of the order passed on that day reads as follows:
    "In the present proceedings, we are not concerned with the custody of the 1st respondent. What is really required to be adverted to is the quantum of punishment, if any, in the proceedings of contempt initiated against all the contemnors.
    Ms. Indu Malhotra, learned senior counsel who has been appointed as Amicus Curiae for 1st respondent, submits that he has filed an affidavit and tendered unconditional apology. She also submits that she has filed medical reports of the said respondent.
    Mr. Dushyant Dave, learned senior counsel appearing for the contemnor Nos.2 and 3 submits that he had filed affidavits on behalf of the said contemnors tendering unconditional apology and also indicating how the order dated 2.1.2017 has been complied with."
4. We have heard Mr.Rishi Malhotra, learned counsel for the petitioner and Mr.R. Balasubramanian along with Mr.Nalin Kohli, learned counsel for the respondent No.2 and 3. After due deliberations while accepting the unconditional apology we think it appropriate that some arrangement has to be made so that respondent No.2 and 3 may do certain social service as agreed to by respondent No.2 and 3.
5. Learned counsel for respondent No.2 and 3 would submit they are prepared to give free medical aid of 10% of their earning capacity for a period of three years. Mr.Rishi Malhotra, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner would insist for cancellation of licence of the hospital and not to accept the unconditional apology. In the course of hearing we asked learned counsel for the respondents whether they are agreeable to deposit certain amount before the Registry of this court so that appropriate orders can be passed for its utilization pertaining to medical aid to the underprivileged and the marginalized section of the society. Mr.Nalin Kohli, learned counsel though accepted the suggestion but submits with all humility in his command that the amount should be reasonable. Regard being had to the nature of the hospital, the place where it is situated, status of the doctors involved and taking into account the other concomitant factors, we direct the respondent No.2 and 3 to deposit 1,40,00,000/- (rupees one crore and forty lakhs) before the Registry of this Court by the end of June, 2017. Out of the total amount as aforesaid, both respondent No.2 and respondent No.3 shall have to deposit L 70,00,000/- (rupees seventy lakhs) each. After the amount is deposited, the Registry is directed to invest the same in a short term fixed deposit account in the UCO Bank, Supreme Court Compound, New Delhi. Regard being had to providing medical aid to the underprivileged and marginalized sections we have sought assistance from Mr.R.Balasubramanian, learned counsel who has submitted that he will think over the matter and come forward with certain suggestions.
6. Let the matter be listed on 6th July, 2017.
7. The personal presence of the respondents including respondent No.1 for the time being is dispensed with.
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