SC quashes contempt charge against Town Planning DG

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New Delhi, October 26
The Supreme Court has set aside a Punjab and Haryana High Court order holding TC Gupta, former Town and Country Planning Director General, guilty of committing contempt of court by granting a licence in December 2011, for setting up a residential plotted colony on 100.262 acres in Sector 63-A of Gurgaon-Manesar.

On August 18, 2011, the HC had passed an interim order for maintaining status quo on the allotments relating to the Final Development Plan-2025 for the Gurgaon-Manesar Urban Complex after hearing a PIL filed by Bimal Kumar Dutta and others and another petitioner contending that the plan was in violation of the Zoning Regulations.

While the order was in force, Gupta granted licence for setting up the colony resulting in the institution of the contempt case against him. Subsequently, the HC rejected Gupta’s explanation and held that its status quo order should have been understood to have “imposed a comprehensive embargo on issuance of all kinds of licences.”

Holding him guilty of committing contempt, the HC passed another order on July 23, 2012, directing him to appear in the court for the hearing to decide the quantum of punishment. Gupta had moved the SC against this order. The SC noted that besides the explanation, Gupta had also tendered an apology to the HC but the court rejected it observing that conditional apology could not be accepted. The SC, however, said any apology by a contemnor should not be rejected merely on the ground of “qualified or conditional so long as it is made bona fide.”

Further, the SC also noted that the HC had already vacated the status quo order while dismissing the PIL on October 30, 2012, which had since attained finality. However, “We should not be understood to be saying that all cases of dismissal of the writ petition, by itself, would absolve a contemnor of the charge of commission of contempt,” the Bench clarified.


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