Coming down heavily on government for not implementing court orders, the Madras High Court has posed a question as to whether there is any mechanism/system available with the Central and State governments to deal with court matters and court orders.

“Even if a mechanism/system is available, in view of non-compliance of court orders by the authorities invariably, it is not effective. Therefore, when the Central/State governments would devise a comprehensive mechanism/system by which step by step procedure for dealing with the court matters and compliance of court orders in time would be envisaged?” Justice N. Kirubakaran asked while passing orders on a contempt petition.

He suggested as to why not the government form a separate cell/wing, including appointment of Special Government Pleader/Special Standing Counsel exclusively for contempt cases to ensure that court orders were complied with.

Mr. Justice Kirubakaran was dealing with a contempt petition by A.P. Abbu Gounder (92) of Chittalakarampatti village in Dharmapuri district.

The petitioner’s case was that he participated in the Quit India Movement and suffered imprisonment for six months. He applied for Central government freedom fighters’ pension along with the co-prisoners’ certificate. He was getting Tamil Nadu government pension for freedom fighters. Since he could not get the Central government pension he filed a writ petition which was allowed on November 30, 2011. The authorities were directed to grant pension within four months; but the order was not obeyed.

The judge said the facts would prima facie indicate that the court order had not been obeyed. He directed the appearance of D.K. Goel, Deputy Secretary, Union Home Ministry, Freedom Fighters Division, on March 20. He also ordered notice to the Central and State governments.

Considering the plight of litigants who are driven to initiate contempt proceedings, Mr. Justice Kirubakaran said he was attempting a judicial prognosis. Non-implementation of court orders by the authorities concerned led to increase in number of contempt petitions. “Irrespective of party coming to power, the officials remain the same. Unless the officials scrupulously comply with the orders, the number of contempt cases is bound to increase.”

Quoting statistics, he said except in 2008 and 2012, the number of contempt petitions before the Principal Seat and the Madurai Bench had been increasing. Last year, 2434 petitions were filed. In 2011, there were 2901 applications and in 2010, 2570. He said the reasons for increasing number of contempt petitions included inaction, misunderstanding of the court order, lack of fear of consequences if court orders were not implemented, red tapism/official delay, delayed response, casual approach to courts and delayed filing of appeal to avoid contempt. The judge observed that some officials considered that the courts were unnecessarily interfering with their functions and “therefore there is inherent resistance to court directions.”

Coming to the rescue of the litigant public, Mr. Justice Kirubakaran said first of all, citizens should not be driven to courts for relief. When they approached the courts, orders were bound to be passed. There also they faced several problems, including delay in getting justice. The court order could not be allowed to be kept in cold storage. If the order was not implemented, people would lose faith in the justice delivery system. The Judge was of the opinion that time had come to amend the Contempt of Courts Act to enhance punishment.