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2022 (9) TMI 144 - Corporate Laws
Criminal contempt for lowering the authority of this Appellate Tribunal, interfering with the course of proceedings before this Tribunal and for obstructing administration of justice, finding them guilty for Contempt of Court - limitation for action of contempt - Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act - HELD THAT:- Admittedly, the Contempt case is filed on 14th September, 2021, the alleged acts of Contemnors constituting criminal contempt must be within a year proceeding to the date of filing i.e., 14th September, 2021. For the contemptuous acts of Contemnors beyond one year preceding to date of filing, the Tribunal is not competent to issue notice for criminal contempt. The alleged acts of contemnors prior to 14th September, 2020 are not cognizable.
The Contemnors nos. 1 & 4 being erstwhile Resolution Professionals and Members of Supervising Committee did not take steps to implement the Resolution Plan. The Contemnors are only Supervising Committee Members, not the SRA who is under obligation to implement the Resolution Plan infusing funds, when the Contempt Case against SRA is not prosecuted, the Contemnor Nos. 1 and 4, who are Members of Supervising Committee, cannot be found guilty for criminal contempt for the reason that the SRA has to infuse funds to implement Resolution Plan and unless the SRA infused funds, the Committee can do nothing to implement the Resolution Plan. Therefore, the alleged acts of Contemnors 1 and 4 cannot be said to be willful or intentional, to saddle with any liability for criminal contempt. Criminal Contempt is defined under Section 2(C) of Contempt of Courts Act, 1917.
A special procedure is provided to take cognizance of criminal contempt, other than criminal contempt in the face of Supreme Court or High Court. In case of criminal contempt, other than contempt referred under Section 14 of the Act, Supreme Court or High Court may take action on its own motion or on a motion made by Advocate General or any other person, with the consent in writing of Advocate General. In relation to Union Territory of Delhi, such Law Officer, as the Central Govt. may by notification in the Official Gazette, specifying in this behalf or any other person with the consent of such Law Officer in writing - In the present contempt case, the procedure contemplated under Section 15 of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 has not been complied, consequently, the Contempt Case is liable to be closed as cognizance was taken in violation of mandatary procedure prescribed in Section 15 and major part of alleged acts of contempt are barred by Limitation prescribed by Section 20 of the Act.
There are no ground to punish the Contemnor Nos 1 and 4. However, it is open to the Creditors to take action, if any, in accordance with provisions of IBC and regulations thereunder, subject to permissibility - the Contempt Case is closed.