SC holds Sikkim HC "responsible" for gross abuse of law

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New Delhi, Jan 28 (UNI) The Supreme Court has held that the Sikkim High Court had indulged in gross abuse of the due process of law in the July 4, 2006 case relating to a widow and her tenanted shop and said ''it cannot be tolerated at all'' A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhan and Altamas Kabir described as ''draconian'' the order of the Sikkim High Court, which had directed the petitioner Shanti Devi on June 25, 2006 to hand over the possession of the shop to her landlord within a week. It had also issued a non-bailable warrant for the arrest of Ms Devi.

The High Court had also imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on Ms Devi and directed police to hand over the possession to the landlord holding her guilty of contempt of court.

The Apex Court in its judgment noted, ''The learned judges before passing the draconian order did not even verify whether the notice of contempt proceedings had been solved personally. What follows thereafter is nothing short of authoritarianism and complete disregard of the principles of fair play in judicial proceedings.

Having regard to the aforesaid facts, the order passed on the contempt application directing possession to be taken by the police authorities and to make the same to the Respondent number 2, appears to be in gross abuse of the due process of law, which cannot at all be sustained.'' It further said, ''What is of grave concern is the fact that the learned judges completely disregarded the Civil law relating to eviction and directed the writ petitioner on a writ petition for different relief to hand over the possession of the tenanted premises to the Respondent number 2.

The case in hand is an example of how the writ courts have in recent times either forgotten or ignorned the line between the relief, which could be given by the civil courts and the constitutional courts.

Infact after imposing the cost of Rs 1 lakh, the learned judges added insult to injury by directing her to also vacate the premises.'' The Apex Court quashed the Sikkim High Court order and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the respondents and directed the landlord to restore possesssion of the premises in question to the appellant within a forthnight from date.

UNI AKS/SC PY RN2249

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