While acting strongly, the Madras High Court sentenced a Contemnor to one month in imprisonment, stating that he deserved no sympathy for misleading the Court.
The Division Bench of Justices PN Prakash and AA Nakkiran remarked that the contemnor looks to be an outsider who has been blackmailing and causing trouble to regular people under the pretext of being a Good Samaritan by manipulating the court process.
He preferred the current Contempt Petition, which he filed under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, to prosecute the respondent for his illegal acts and charge him with several criminal contempt.
The PILs were exclusively filed against government officials, and the alleged encroachers were not named as parties.
The respondent then went to the authorities and pretended to be a victim and made it appear as though the High Court was monitoring the matters.
The Court noted at the outset that the respondent has a habit of claiming to be the Trustee of some temples, on the basis of which he used to send representations to various Departments alleging that the temples’ lands have been encroached, with a prayer for the removal of such encroachments, and then following up by filing public interest litigations in the High Court against only the Government officials without including the alleged encroachers and praying for writs of mandamus to the authorities for the removal of the alleged encroachments.
It then began to look into the charges brought against the respondent.
The Court noted that the respondent stated that he was a Kattalaidharar of Arulmighu Sugavaneswarar Temple and that the English translation of the word “Kattalaidharar” is Trustee, whereas this is not the case because “Kattalaidharar” means a person who sponsors poojas or Annadhanam (free food distribution) in a temple, perhaps to commemorate a specific event. A temple trustee, on the other hand, is referred to as an “Arangavalar” in Tamil.
The Court clarified that he is in a higher position than a mere Kattalaidharar because the Trustee holds an office, whereas a Kattalaidharar is merely a donor.
In light of the above discussion, the Court determined that the respondent lied to the court. “When a temple trustee files a public interest lawsuit alleging that some of the temple’s lands have been encroached upon, the High Court will naturally give more weight to his assertion than to the assertion of a mere donor.”
The Court then made a remark about the respondent’s careless filing of public interest lawsuits in this Court. The Court found that, while he was not a Trustee of either Arulmigu Kamanaatheeswarar Temple or Arulmigu Sakthi Vinayagar Temple, he claimed to be one in his affidavits.
At least in the second charge, the respondent claimed to be a “Kattalaidharar,” whereas he admits that he is not a Trustee of these two temples, namely, Arulmighu Kaamanatheeswarar Temple, Salem, and Sakthi Vinayagar Temple, Krishnagiri, but the error crept in because the affidavit was cut and pasted.
The Court stated that his acts of providing false information would “certainly interfere with the administration of justice” and would fall under the definition of “the administration of justice in any other manner” in Section 2(c)(iii) of the Contempt of Courts Act. As a result, he was found guilty of those charges.
As a result, the Court found the respondent guilty of all four charges and sentenced him to four weeks of simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs.2,000/- for each charge, with an additional two weeks of simple imprisonment if he did not pay the fine.