Reply To: Jurisdiction Means

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A litigant who wilfully violates the order of Court can have no right of audience nor can he get any assitance of the Court until he has complied with the orders of Court.

If any authority is needed reference may be made to the judgment in the case of Prestige Lights Ltd. vs. State Bank of India reported in 2007(8) SCC 449.

“An order passed by a competent court- interim or final- has to be obeyed without any reservation. If such order is disobeyed or not complied with, the court may refuse the party violating such order to hear him on merits. We are not unmindful of the situation that refusal to hear a party to the proceeding on merits is a “drastic step” and such a serious penalty should not be imposed on him except in grave and extraordinary situations, but sometimes such an action is needed in the larger interest of justice when a party obtaining interim relief intentionally and deliberately flouts such order by not abiding by the terms and conditions on which a relief is granted by the court in his favour.
In the leading case of Hadkinson v. Hadkinson the custody of a child was given to the mother by an interim order of the Court, but she was directed not to remove the child out of jurisdiction of the Court without the prior permission of the court. In spite of the order, the mother removed the child to Australia without prior permission of the Court. On a summons by father, the Court directed the mother to return the child within the jurisdiction of the Court. Meanwhile, an appeal was filed by the mother against that order. A preliminary objection was raised by the father that as the appellant was in contempt, she was not entitled to be heard on merits. Upholding the contention and speaking for the majority, Romer, L.J. observed: (All ER p.572 C) “…I am clearly of the opinion that the mother was not entitled, in view of her continuing contempt of court, to prosecute the present appeal and that she will not be entitled to be heard in support of it until she has taken the first and essential step towards purging her contempt of returning the child within the jurisdiction.”

In a concurring judgment, Denning, L.J. also stated: (All ER p.575 C-D) “The present case is a good example of a case where the disobedience of the party impedes the course of justice. So long as this boy remains in Australia, it is impossible for this Court to enforce its orders in respect of him. No good reason is shown why he should not be returned to this country so as to be within the jurisdiction of this Court. He should be returned before counsel is heard on the merits of this case, so that, whatever order is made, this Court will be able to enforce it. I am prepared to accept the view that in the first instance the mother acted in ignorance of the order, but nevertheless, once she came to know of it, she ought to have put the matter right by bringing the boy back. Until the boy is returned, we must decline to hear her appeal.”

That, however, does not mean that in each and every case in which a party has violated an interim order has no right to be heard at all. Nor will the court refuse to hear him in all circumstances. The normal rule is that an application by a party will not be entertained until he has purged himself of the contempt. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule. One of such exceptions is that the party may appeal with a view to setting aside the order on which his alleged contempt is founded. A person against whom contempt is alleged must be heard in support of the submission that having regard to the meaning and intendment of the order which he is said to have disobeyed, his actions did not constitute a breach of it.

In Gordon v. Gordon, Cozens-Hardy, L.J. put the principle succinctly in the following words 🙁 All ER p.706 E-F) “… I desire to limit my judgment to a case in which the [party in contempt is saying] that the order complained of is outside the jurisdiction of the court, as distinguished from the case of an order which, although it is within the jurisdiction of the court, ought not, it is said, to have been made.”

Lord Denning made the following pertinent observations in Hadkinson: ( All ER pp.574 H-575A) “It is a strong thing for a court to refuse to hear a party to a cause and it is only to be justified by grave considerations of public policy. It is a step which a court will only take when the contempt itself impedes the course of justice and there is no other effective means of securing his compliance.”

There is still one more reason why the appellant Company should be denied equitable relief under Article 136 of the Constitution. According to the respondent Bank, the appellant has not come with clean hands before the Bank. It has suppressed and concealed material facts from the Court.”

Under clause (g) of Section 114 of the Evidence Act Court is entitled to presume “that evidence which could be and is not produced would, if produced, be unfavourable to the person who withholds it”.