Tuesday, January 8, 2013

******** CP No 44/2010 in OA 536/1996 on 17-08-2011

********  Rly denying right to a widow of the dues




W/o Rudrappa Venkatappa,
Aged about 59 years,
R/At C/o K.Dharmapalan,
Sheshadripuram, IV Cross,
Shimoga – 577 201. ...Petitioner

(By Advocate Shri R.Shashidar)


1. Shri Deepak Krishana,
General Manager,
Park Town, Southern Railways,
Madras – 600 003.

2. Shri D.B.Varma,
Divisional Manager,
South Western Railway,

3. Shri D.Narasimhan,
Divisional Personnel Officer,
South Western Railways,

4. Shri K.L.Girish,
Permanent Way Inspector,
South Western Railway,
Shimoga. ...Respondents

(By Railway Standing Counsel Shri N.Amaresh)

This Contempt Petition was filed on 27.9.2010 and came up for hearing today.  In view of the fact that  already nearly 10 months have past,  both the learned Counsel as well as  the Bench was anxious for an early hearing.  Accordingly, both the Counsels made their submissions, from which, we note that:-

1. This CP is filed on 29.9.2010 as the respondents  have not complied with the directions of this Tribunal in OA No.536/1996 in which the judgement came to be passed on 10.7.1997 directing as below - “To this, the respondents' counsel states that he undertakes to intimate the counsel for the applicant within a period of one month, the amount involved, so that the applicant can take steps to procure the legal heirship certificate from the competent court of law.  If such legal heirship certificate is produced to the respondents, the respondents shall dispose of the claim made by the applicant within a period of 2 months thereafter” (Annexure C1).

2. We find from the record that the alleged contemner have not submitted any document to show us that any such communication was made by them contemner to the original applicant at any time during the period 1997 – 2011, for conveying the amount involved.  Furthermore it is seen from the record that subsequently in the year 1998 the applicant, who is the wife of the deceased employee  filed a claim before the competent court  for the succession certificate and the learned court was pleased to grant the succession certificate to the extent of Rs.3,35,000/- payable by the respondent department.  The decision of the competent court as at Annexure C-2, was obtained on 26.6.2009 and was served upon the present contemner by way of legal notice on 13.2.2010, Annexure C-3.  A second legal notice was also served on 29.6.2010.

3. It is to be noted that the alleged contemners-1 and 2 are high ranking officials of South Western Railway, namely GM and DRM, who have all resources and necessary authority at their command for complying with the direction of the Tribunal.  Pursuant to the direction of this Bench to the alleged contemners we are under obligation to communicate to the applicant the amount due to be paid for the services of the deceased employees within one month, further they have  received the legal heirship certificate in February, 2010 and were under obligation to pay the claim amount within a period of 2 months thereafter.  When nothing happened, the original applicant has filed this contempt petition in the month of September, 2010.  Accordingly notice was served on the alleged contemners to which the objections have come to be filed on 1.2.2011 on behalf of all four alleged contemners.  Thereafter, an affidavit has been filed on 5.8.2011 to say that the contemners have tried to settle the claim of the applicant to the tune of Rs.1,805/- by way of a cheque which is dated 2.8.2011.   This is against the claim of Rs.3,35,000/- for which the decree is passed by the competent court for succession certificate.   We also find that even the cheque proposing to give pittance has not yet delivered.

4. Through out the filing of the objections to the contempt notice and  filing the affidavit, we only notice a very callous approach of the alleged contemners.  There is not a single word of remorse or apology for the delay.  When the succession court has passed an order for the claim of Rs.3,35,000/-, the alleged contemners in their objection statement at para-5 questioned the following –
“It is not known as to how the petitioner has filed the P&SC before the Hon'ble Civil Judge, Bhadravathi claiming  the  amount of Rs.3,35,000/-, ______ the respondents have never communicated to the petitioner the total amount due in respect of the  settlement benefits of late Rudrappa Venkatappa”.

5. It is thus the own admission of the alleged contemners that they have not communicated anything to the applicant regarding the claim and thus violated the directions given in para-2 of the order of this Tribunal dated 10.7.1997.  The statement of objections filed before us is completely without any remorse.  The non-communication by the contemners to the applicant must also have resulted  in lot of running around  done by  the applicant to collect papers relevant to the claim.  The matter took long time  before the succession  court  before whom the alleged contemners have not cared to appear, thus putting the applicant to a great amount of hardship.  It is with impunity that the statement is made at para-5 that the Railway authorities never communicated the total amount due in respect of the claims.

6. It is also seen that the original respondents No.1, 2, 3 and 4 were highly placed officials of  South Western Railways under which the present alleged contemners are employees and holding those posts.  They were made a party before the Badravathi court who has decided the succession certificate case and that court had taken out notice and yet the original respondents chose to remain absent,  through out the period of 14 years. They have never intimated to the applicant that according to their available records the claims comes to only Rs.1,805/-.  This  assessment seems to have dawned upon them only as late as on 2.8.2011.  All this goes to show only the callousness of the respondent department and their officers in dealing with the claims of their employees.

7. During the hearing  the learned Counsel insisted that the direction of the court which reads as “the respondents shall dispose of the  claims made by the applicant within a period of 2 months    thereafter”  must be understood as a direction merely to consider the claim of the applicant and the respondents are free to come to their own conclusion regarding the amount due to the applicant.  We make it clear that this submission is not acceptable in view of clear directions of the Tribunal.  The word “dispose of” must be understood as “pay” and not as “consider”. Looking at  the evidence, in our opinion, considering the aspect that the applicants have been driven from pillar to post, at least now the Respondents could have granted relief to the applicants in line and tune with the order of the Tribunal dated 10.12.2010 in OA No.478/2008 without giving rise to this CP. Hence we have no hesitation to levy a cost of Rs.50,000/- on Respondent-1 who is the highest responsible officer and Res.30,000/- on the Respondent-2 and Rs.15,000/- on Respondent-3 to be paid to the original applicant.  They are also directed to make the payment of Rs.3,35,000/- which has been declared in the succession certificate to the applicant within a month from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.  

8.     On noting  these above mentioned facts  the Bench has come to a conclusion that this is a fit case for proceeding with the contempt against the 4 respondents by names. Accordingly, under Rules 13(b)(i) we frame the contempt charge as attached herewith:

9. We also have no hesitation to conclude that all the four respondents have committed a contemt of court and therefore charge them with the contempt  as per attached notice under Section.... of the Act.  They shall personally appear before this Tribunal on 15.11.2011.
With the above directions, the CP is allowed.

  MEMBER(J)          MEMBER(A)


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