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Contempt of court: SC imposes Rs 1 lakh fine on Information and Broadcasting Ministry

Holding the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting guilty of contempt of court, the Supreme Court has imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on it for its failure to implement a two-year-old order in a case relating to departmental promotion.

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The top court had in its September 26, 2018 judgment directed the Ministry to provide departmental candidates with all benefits of service and to consider their cases for promotions in accordance with Indian Broadcasting (Programme) Service Rules 1990 but the order was not implemented.

“In these circumstances, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is in contempt of the judgment of this Court. We accordingly impose a fine of Rs 1,00,000 on the respondents. The fine shall be paid over to the National Legal Services Authority within four weeks and shall be recovered from the officers responsible for compliance,” a Bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud said in its August 16 order.

“There is a clear non-compliance with the directions of this Court,” said the Bench, which also included Justice MR Shah.

“The actual benefits, including arrears of salary shall be paid over to the petitioner with effect from the date on which the upgradation or, as the case may be, promotion, has been granted to him within a period of one month from the date of the order. The petitioner would be entitled to interest at the rate of 6% per annum on the arrears of the salary,” it said.

Rejecting the Ministry’s explanation, the Bench said, “We are unimpressed by this explanation in the compliance affidavit. The reason why the petitioner could not avail of his promotion earlier was due to the fault of the authorities. The judgment of the Tribunal was delivered on November 8, 2000. There was no stay of the decision of the Tribunal or of the High Court affirming it.

“Consequently, it is the failure of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to implement the binding judgments of the Tribunal and the High Court and eventually of this Court that has led to the present situation. Even after the judgment of this Court, no steps were taken,” it noted.

The top court said, “The grant of notional promotions to a person in service does not effectuate compliance. Arrears of pay have to be paid over. Had there been compliance with the judgments of the Tribunal and High Court, the petitioner would have received promotion earlier. The petitioner has been deprived of this due to the delay of the respondents.” Tribune India

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