Contempt Action without framing of charges not sustainable

The Division Bench of the Apex Court set aside the conviction and sentence imposed by the Delhi High Court under the Contempt of Court Act 1971, holding, inter-alia, that formal charges were not framed against the person.

The Supreme Court held the above in the matter of R.S Sehrawat Vs, Rajeev Malhotra & Ors. [Criminal Appeal No. 684 of 2006] which was decided on 05.09.2018.



The issue arose out of a writ petition in Delhi High Court filed by one Rajeev Malhotra, whose grievance was that a construction made by him, which was permitted by the Corporation, was later demolished by the Corporation itself on that ground that it was unauthorized. While considering this petition, the High Court noted that as per an earlier order issued in a PIL, constructions in that area were prohibited. The Court observed that by permitting construction in violation of the direction in the PIL, the concerned officers committed contempt of court, and initiated suo-moto contempt action.



The Apex Court while setting aside the conviction and sentence held that the appellant was not served with any charges much less specific charge which he was expected to meet. Further, the Supreme Court held that the appellant’s affidavit regarding demolition of the building couldn’t be doubted as other contemporaneous records supported it.


The Court also stated that the High Court unjustly proceeded against the Appellant without framing formal charges or furnishing such charges to him; and more so because filing of affidavit by the appellant was supported by contemporaneous official record, which cannot be termed as an attempt to obstruct the due course of administration of justice.