M.A Khaliq vs. Ashok Kumar, SC 2021

FACTS – Taking cognizance of the allegations made in Contempt Case, the Single Judge of the High Court directed the Metropolitan Sessions Judge, City Criminal Court, Nampally, Hyderabad to inquire into the matter.

Pursuant to the aforesaid directions, Metropolitan Sessions Judge, Hyderabad, inquired into the matter and submitted his report.

The matter was thereafter taken up by the Single Judge of the High Court. After considering the rival submissions, the Single Judge found respondent No.1, who at the relevant time, was Station House Officer, Akividu Police Station, West Godavari District to be guilty of contempt.

Respondent No.1 being aggrieved, filed Contempt Appeal. The Division Bench of the High Court took the view that since no crime was registered, the directions issued by this Court in Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar & Another (2014) 8 SCC 273 would not come into play. The Contempt Appeal was, therefore, allowed by the Division Bench.

Being aggrieved by the decision of the Division Bench, the original Contempt Petitioner appealed to the Supreme Court.

CAUSEJudgment passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Amravati in Contempt Appeal by which the order passed by the Single Judge in Contempt Case was set aside.

ISSUE – Whether the guidelines issued in Arnesh Kumar case would only come into play on the registering of a crime.

DECISION – The report of the Metropolitan Sessions Judge, after due inquiry indicated that the contempt petitioner was not only summoned to Akividu Police Station in the name of counseling but was also detained.

In the circumstances, there were clear violation of the directions issued by the Supreme Court not only in Arnesh Kumar case but also in the case in D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997) 1 SCC 416 . The mere fact that no crime was registered, could not be a defence, nor would it be an escape from the rigour of the decisions rendered by the Supreme Court. As a matter of fact, summoning the person without there being any crime registered against him and detaining him would itself be violative of basic principles.

In the circumstances, the Division Bench was not right and justified in setting aside the view taken by the Single Judge of the High Court. Supreme Court therefore, allowed the appeal. While setting aside the decision of the Division Bench of the High Court, it restored the decision of the Single Judge.

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