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Act judiciously, don’t be swung by emotions on contempt jurisdiction: SC

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Courts must not be hypersensitive or swung by emotions while exercising contempt jurisdiction, the Supreme Court has said. A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sanjay Karol made the observation while setting aside a Calcutta High Court order that had revoked a doctor’s license for contempt of court.

“The Court has time and again asserted that the contempt jurisdiction enjoyed by the Courts is only for the purpose of upholding the majority of the judicial system that exists. While exercising this power, the Courts must not be hypersensitive or swung by emotions but must act judiciously,” the apex court said.

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The bench said the doctor’s license cannot be suspended as penalty in contempt proceedings. “A medical practitioner guilty of contempt of court may also be so for professional misconduct but the same would depend on the gravity/nature of the contemptuous conduct of the person in question. They are, however, offences separate and distinct from each other. The former is regulated by the Contempt of Court Act, 1971 and the latter is under the jurisdiction of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019,” the bench said.

The top court was hearing a plea challenging the judgment of a division bench of the Calcutta High Court, which upheld various orders of a single bench. The single bench had suspended the appellant’s medical license as penalty in the contempt proceedings initiated against him for failure to remove an unauthorised construction.

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The top court noted that the doctor has carried out the requisite demolition with the exception of approximately 250 mm in the rear portion as it would render the building, legally constructed, unsafe. “In respect of the unauthorised construction that remains, we direct that an undertaking be furnished before the concerned High Court that remedial construction to safeguard the soundness of the existing building and the consequent demolishing of the unauthorised construction shall be completed within a reasonable time,” the bench said.

(With agency inputs)

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