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After the Supreme Court and the Meghalaya High Court, the Allahabad High Court recently sentenced a contemnor to sit in Court until the Bench rose for the day. In this case, the Additional Chief Secretary, Secretariat Department of the Uttar Pradesh Government, Mahesh Kumar Gupta was hauled up for contempt of court.
In addition, Justice Vivek Chaudhary also directed Kumar to personally pay a fine of Rs 25,000 for his contumacious conduct. The order passed last Tuesday states,
“… contemnor Sri Mahesh Kumar Gupta, Principal Secretary (now Additional Chief Secretary), Secretariat Administration Department, Government of U.P., Lucknow is sentenced till rising of the Court and with a fine of Rs.25,000/- which is to be deposited by the contemnor with State Legal Service Authority of this Court within one week from today. The cost of fine shall not be borne by the State Government.“
Last month, the Supreme Court had also sentenced former Interim Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) M Nageswara Rao and CBI lawyer S Bhasuran to sit in a corner of the Chief Justice’s Court till the rising of the Bench for contempt.
The Allahabad High Court’s sentence followed after it was found that Kumar was guilty of having wilfully and deliberately disobeyed the Court’s orders concerning the promotion of Assistant Review Officers (AROs, earlier known as Lower Division Assistants) in the State.
An ARO seniority list prepared in August 2015 had been quashed by the High Court in September 2017. By the same judgment, the Court also directed the state government to prepare a fresh seniority list within six months. However, the state government failed to do so, leading to a contempt petition being filed against them.
Apart from the failure to prepare a fresh seniority list, the Court was also informed that the government had promoted ten persons based on the 2015 seniority list that had been quashed by the Court. The responsibility for such contemptuous conduct was eventually fixed on Kumar. By an order passed in July 2018, Justice Chaudhary concluded that he was liable to be punished for contempt of Court. As observed in his order,
“Relying upon the seniority list which is already set aside by this Court for making further promotions is a direct violation of the order of the Court by which the said seniority list was set aside.”
A special leave petition filed against this order was eventually dismissed by the Supreme Court in November 2018. The case came up before the Allahabad High Court again last Monday, on which date the judge noted that the contemnor had not taken any corrective action even now. The Court remarked,
“It defies the logic and no explanation is placed before the Court by the contemnor as to why there is an absolute refusal on part of contemnor to comply with the order of this Court…
… In view thereof, I find that the contemnor is willfully and deliberately playing partisan with particular employees in the present case and is violating specific directions of this Court.”
The continuing contempt of Court exhibited by the Additional Chief Secretary thus lead the High Court to conclude that he deserved to be penalised for contempt of court. Accordingly, he was awarded his sentence by the Court the following day.
Read the order dated March 26, 2019:
Read the order dated March 25, 2019: