Special Tribunal not toothless body: HC

Court to hear charges in JKCA scam on July 6

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, May 25: The High Court, in a significant judgment, has observed that the J&K Special Tribunal is not a toothless body to deal with committing violations to its orders and recommended that to make its function more effective, amendment is required to be made in the Act, of 1988.
Justice Sanjeev Kumar has held these recommendations while dealing with a case whereby challenge was thrown to an order passed by the Special Tribunal in a contempt proceedings on the ground that the tribunal has no power and jurisdiction to entertain and deal with contempt proceedings.
“Tribunal is possessed of sufficient powers to deal with the citizens who dare to commit its contempt. Though it is ideal as also to make the functioning of the Tribunal effective to make an amendment in the Act of 1988 to confer upon it specifically the power to punish for contempt in relation to itself or any member thereof, as has been done in various statutes”, Justice Kumar recommended.
Court while referring the powers to deal with contempt proceedings said the National Company Law Tribunal and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal constituted under the Companies Act have been specifically conferred the powers to punish for contempt of itself, which power is akin and identical to the power conferred upon the High Courts under Article 215 of the Constitution of India and Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act.
“It is, however, for the Legislature vested with the power to legislate to take a call in this regard as the Special Tribunal is not vested with any power, directly or indirectly, to punish for contempt in relation to itself or any member thereof”, Justice Kumar has held.
The court has further held that the Tribunal shall be deemed to be a ‘court’ subordinate to the High Court for the purposes of Section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act.
“That the Tribunal shall also be entitled to proceed under Section 345 of the Cr.P.C, where the contempt committed in the view of or in presence of the Tribunal is an offence described under Sections 175, 178, 179, 180 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code”, reads the well elaborated judgment on this issue.
Court has held the order passed by the Tribunal in contempt proceedings as not sustainable in law and quashed the same with the clarification that the quashment of order shall not be an impediment in the way of the Tribunal to exercise suo moto powers of revision which are vested in it, if it is of the opinion that the Srinagar Municipal Corporation has passed an order which is in violation or derogation of the directions passed by it earlier.
The issue involved in the case was that the Commissioner, SMC, to whom the matter was remanded by the Tribunal for passing fresh orders with regard to earlier permission, did not cancel or withdraw the said permission but called upon the writ petitioner (violator) to remove the deviation and violation before he could be permitted to raise the construction.
The writ petitioner obeyed the directions of the Commissioner, SMC, and removed the violation committed by him in the shape of construction of basement and thereafter allowed him to construct the remaining portion of the structure as per the granted building permission.
Feeling aggrieved by the manner in which SMC had acted in response to the order passed by the Tribunal while disposing of the revision petition, the aggrieved persons (who had challenged the building permission) filed a petition for initiating contempt proceedings against Joint Commissioner, SMC, for willful defiance of the orders passed by the Tribunal.