CHENNAI: A division bench of the Madras High Court has upheld an order of a single judge awarding R N Manikandan, chairman of the Child Welfare Committee (Kancheepuram district), a two- month jail term with a fine for not obeying the orders of the judge. “In the result, we confirm the order dated December 13, 2017 passed in a contempt petition by a single judge. Consequently, the contempt appeal fails and it is dismissed,” a bench of Justices R Subbiah and P D Audikesavalu said.
The bench was dismissing an appeal from Manikandan challenging the single judge’s order.
Originally, while passing orders on a writ petition from the Franscisan Sisters St Joseph at St Thomas Mount, which ran an orphanage in the name of ‘Assissi Illam’, the single judge on June 7, 2017, had directed Manikandan to send the five children allegedly taken over by him forcibly, back to the Illam. Aggrieved, Manikandan preferred a writ appeal and the same was pending without any interim orders.
Meanwhile, the Illam filed a contempt petition to punish Manikandan for not returning the children to the home as per the June 2017 orders of the single judge.
Holding that if the act of Manikandan is condoned and if he is allowed to go without any punishment, it will set a bad precedent and many will think of flouting the court orders, which cannot be permitted, the single judge had imposed the punishment of simple imprisonment for two months with fine on him. Hence, the present appeal from Manikandan.
Dismissing it, the bench observed that “given the nature of the grounds of contempt appeal raised by the appellant and the manner in which he attempted to justify his action as a statutory authority, we are of the unhesitant view that the apology sought to be tendered by him was only to escape from the clutches of the contempt proceedings initiated against him.
The contemptuous behaviour persistently exhibited by the appellant is subversive to the majesty of the rule of law and has created an affront to the institution of judiciary which requires to be dealt with iron hands to deter such recurrence. Hence, we fully concur with the sentence imposed upon the appellant by the single judge and find that there is absolutely no scope for accepting the apology of the appellant to relieve him from undergoing the imprisonment.