Read order: Union Territory of J&K vs. Shahnaza Parveen & Ors

Pankaj Bajpai

Srinagar, August 31, 2021: While opining that the Letters Patent Appeal under Clause 12 of the Letters Patent is not maintainable, the Jammu & Kashmir High Court ruled that all the orders passed in proceedings for contempt are of interlocutory nature which does not determine any right or issue between the parties.

The observation came to be passed in light of the direction sought before the court to conclude the process of selection for appointment of Rehbar-i-Taleem, and to bring it to its logical end by initiating proceedings for contempt.

The instant Letters Patent Appeal came to filed by B. K. Singh, IFS, Administrative Secretary to Government, Department of School Education, J&K, challenging the orders passed by the Single Judge dealing with a contempt petition, by contending that the contempt proceedings were wholly without jurisdiction inasmuch as the scheme for appointment on the post of Rehbar-i-Taleem has been abandoned by the Government in the year 2018.

It was further contended that the selection for the post under the said scheme could not be concluded as the contempt proceedings have been initiated beyond the period of limitation of one year prescribed and as such are barred by time.

Opposing the same, it was argued that the appeal u/s 19 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1997 lies only against the order of punishment for contempt of court and not otherwise. It was further argued that Letters Patent Appeal is maintainable only against the final judgment and not against the interlocutory orders which do not decide any right of the parties.

The High Court noted that though the basic order against which contempt had been filed is dated February 12,2015,  but it relates back to the order dated  August 5,2011, wherein for the first-time directions were issued to the official respondents to conclude the selection process in accordance with the rules and guidelines governing the matter.

The scheme for appointment of Rehbar-i-Taleem has been done away with in the year 2018, meaning thereby that it remained in operation up to 2018. There appears to be prima facie no justification for not implementing the orders of the court so as to complete the process of selection during the period 2011 to 2018 or even from 2015 to 2018, observed the Court.

Quoting the decision of Midnapore People’s Cooperative Bank Ltd. vs. Chuni Lal Nanda wherein it was held that under Clause 12 of Letters Patent, an appeal would lie to the Division Bench only from the “judgment” of the Single Judge passed in exercise of original jurisdiction, the Division Bench opined that intermediary and interlocutory orders passed during the course of the proceedings which do not determine any right or issue between the parties cannot be said to be a “judgment” amenable to available jurisdiction of the Division Bench under Clause 12 of the Letters Patent.

Hence, the High Court dismissed the Letters Patent appeal as not maintainable. 

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