Filing fabricated evidence before court for gaining unfair advantage amounts to contempt of court
Chandramani Kanhar Vs State of Odisha
BLAPL No. 4576 of 2020
About/from the judgment:
The High Court while dealing with an interim bail application held that that filing of a forged or fabricated document in the Court with a purpose of getting any relief amounts to criminal contempt within the meaning of Sec. 2(c) of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.
The order came after a petition for interim bail application was filed by the petition on the grounds that his wife, Santosini Kanhar was suffering from multiple diseases and was advised by the doctor to be on complete rest in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The petitioner annexed copies of medical prescription and fitness certificate with the bail application.
The Court vide order dated 09.12.2020 ordered the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Cuttack to conduct an examination into the authenticity of medical documents after the State raised doubts over its legitimacy and to submit a detailed report in a sealed cover. After the enquiry, a report was therefore received on 16.12.2020 in a sealed cover which disclosed that there was no doctor working in the hospital by the name of Dr. SK Bhol who had issued the medical certificate granting complete bed rest. It was also found that the designation seal used in making the certificate was forged and therefore, the documents were fabricated.
The Court ordered the deponent, a relative of the petitioner, who had sworn the affidavit of interim bail application to be produced before the Trial Court and ordered immediate steps to be taken for his arrest. The deponent was then produced before the High Court on Monday where he was found guilty of contempt of court.
Filing Fabricated and Forged Documents Amounts to Criminal Contempt
The Court while interpreting the meaning of criminal contempt under Sec. 2(c) of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 held that "If a forged and fabricated document is filed in Court to get some relief, the same may amount to interference with the administration of justice. The obstruction of justice is to interpose obstacles or impediments, or to hinder, impede or in any manner interrupt or prevent the administration of justice."
The High Court was of the view that anyone who takes the recourse of fraud for the purpose of deflecting the course of judicial proceedings interferes with the administration of justice and such person should not only be punished for the wrongdoing but the punishment must also serve as a deterrent for others to not indulge in similar acts which shake the faith of people in judicial system.
The Court observed that the term 'due course of justice' used under Sec. 2 (c) and Sec. 13 of the Act involves a broader stream of administration of justice which is not limited to any particular judicial proceeding. The law of contempt is one of the many measures wherein the due process of law is safeguarded from being hindered. "Due process of law is blinkered by acts or conduct of the parties to the litigation or witnesses or generate tendency to impede or undermine the free flow of the unsullied stream of justice by blatantly resorting, with impunity, to fabricate Court proceedings to thwart fair adjudication of dispute and its resultant end." the Court ordered.
On the aspect of punishment of criminal contempt, the Court observed that if the act substantially interferes or tends to interfere with the administration of justice, the same is liable to be punished. The Court while noting that there has been an increasing tendency of the parties to use fabricated or false evidences to gain unfair advantage of judicial process, it relied on the judgments of Chandra Shashi v. Anil Kumar Verma (1995)1 S.C.C. 421 and Ram Autar Shukla v. Arvind Shukla 1995 Supp(2) S.C.C. 130 wherein the Apex Court held that even if the element of mens rea is unclear or obscure but the act tends to undermine the dignity of court, such act is sufficient to be amounted as contempt of court.
The Court held that the conduct of the deponent in filing fabricated and false medical documents is prima facie proof of contempt of court and ordered that he shall be detained in judicial custody till further orders. The case will now be listed before the Hon'ble Chief Justice of Orissa High Court for passing further orders under Sec. 18 of the Act.
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