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"If apology is offered at a time when the contemnor finds that the court is going to impose punishment it ceases to be an apology and it becomes an act of cringing coward", the Court said.
The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday emphasised that paper apologies would not absolve a party who apologises as part of a calculated strategy when it becomes apparent that the Court is going to impose punishment for Contempt of Court [The Federal Agency for State Property Management of the Russian Federation (ROSIMUSHCESTVO) v. Saraf Agency Pvt. Ltd. & Ors.]
Justice Somen Sen observed,
In this case, the Court found a company and two of its directors liable for wilfully disobeying an interim order passed in November 2016.
While the contemnors contended that no contempt of Court was committed, an affidavit was also filed offering an "unqualified apology" in the event their acts "unintentionally" amounted to a violation of the Court's 2016 order.
The Judge eventually ruled that the contemnors were guilty of contempt of Court, adding that the corporate veil, in this case, would not save them from facing punishment for the same.
Notably, the Court opined that the contingent apology tendered by the contemnors was not genuine, especially given that there were repeated and relentless attempts on the part of the contemnors to justify that there was no breach of the interim order.
Referring to the case of Mulk Raj v. State of Punjab, the Court further explained,
The Court proceeded to conclude that the apology offered by the contemnors in this case was only intended to get rid of the consequences of the acts of contempt.
Therefore, to vindicate the outraged divinity of the Court, the Judge directed that Rs. 30,000 each be paid for the company and by two directors of the company.
The payment has to be made within six weeks to the High Court's Registrar General. Out of this amount, the Court has directed that Rs 1 lakh be transferred to the State Legal Service Authority and that the balance amount of Rs.80,000 be transferred to the West Bengal State Emergency Relief Fund.