“Inclined to take suo motu contempt": Madras High Court on lawyer for alleged "abuse of process of the Court"
Madras High Court

“Inclined to take suo motu contempt": Madras High Court on lawyer for alleged "abuse of process of the Court"

A lawyer who allegedly misled police officials into believing that a Madras High Court eviction order of December 3 has revoked to stall eviction proceedings has drawn contempt proceedings after the same was brought to the Court's notice.

Stating that the Court is inclined to initiate suo motu contempt, Justice P Velmurugan on December 21 posted the matter before the Chief Justice for appropriate orders.

However, it may be noted that the case status on the e-Courts page has reflected that the December 3 order was revoked on December 4.

Screenshot of the e-Courts website reflecting that the December 3 order in this case was revoked on December 4
Screenshot of the e-Courts website reflecting that the December 3 order in this case was revoked on December 4

On December 21, Justice Velmurugan, who had passed the eviction order on December 3, was informed that one, advocate P Bagyalakshmi had addressed a letter on December 9 to the Inspector of Police stating that the Court's order had been revoked on December 4.

The letter was sent amid the efforts of a police team to carry out the eviction on the Court's December 3 order. The Court recorded the December 9 letter by Bagyalakshmi as having stated:

“The order dated 03.12.2020 impleading the Commissioner of Police, Chennai by the Hon'ble High Court has been revoked on 04.12.2020 and you cannot enforce the said orders dated 03.12.2020 of the Hon'ble Justice P.Velmurugan. Further the order of eviction dated 21.11.2020 of respondents is stayed by the Hon'ble High Court which was already brought to your notice. When there is no order at all as on date and stay of eviction is granted, you cannot proceed further kindly reconsider.”

Justice Velmurugan, however, clarified that it has not revoked the December 3 order. As such it held advocate Bagyalakshmi's action to be a total abuse of the Court. Therefore, it proceeded to direct that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice, stating:

"The above said action on the part of the Advocate is totally abuse of process of Court. Hence, this Court is inclined to take suo moto contempt against the said Advocate, for which the Registry is directed to place this matter before the Hon'ble Chief Justice for getting appropriate orders in this regard."

As far as the eviction proceedings were concerned, the Justice Velmurugan took note of a status report indicating that the process is being continued against unauthorised occupants. The Judge directed the authorities to carry on with the eviction proceedings, save against five persons who had obtained interim stays.

CORRIGENDUM: The title and the article has been revised to accurately reflect the Court's order and to incorporate the fact that e-courts website shows the eviction order in question as having been revoked on December 4. The earlier discrepencies have been rectified and is regretted.

Update: On December 23, Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana directed that no coercive action be taken against the petitioners in the matter until January 5, 2021, when the matter will be taken up again. Earlier, the Judge had directed a stay in the matter concerning five petitioners on December 17.

Read the orders:

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Madras High Court - December 17 order.pdf
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Madras High Court December 21 order.pdf
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Madras High Court December 23 order.pdf
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