Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Dec 6:
In a landmark ruling that is set to change the rules of the game in case of government officers implicated in contemmpt of court cases in courts in their official capacity, the Odisha High Court on Friday made it clear that henceforth, they will have to foot the legal expenses of fighting their cases.
Public prosecutors, paid out of the state exchequer, cannot fight contempt proceedings for or on behalf of government officials from now on, the court ruled.
“The state exchequer will not be burdened for the errant act of officers, who have got scant regard to the orders passed by this court,” the single judge bench of Justice BR Sarangi ruled while adjudicating on a petition filed by one Dhabal Prasad Pradhan.
The court directed the chief secretary to intimate all departments and authorities concerned that the government exchequer will not bear the expenses of contempt proceedings against officers or appoint state counsel to defend them, where violation of the order is wilful.
The bench issued the directive while dropping the contempt proceedings against sub-registrar, Cuttack, Ramesh Chandra Panda, who tendered an unconditional apology.
It may be mentioned that the High Court, while acting on the petition filed by Pradhan on October 21, had directed the Cuttack sub-registrar to register the sale deed of the petitioner, ruling that patta was not mandatory for the purpose.
The petitioner had challenged the state government order under the Registration (Odisha) Amendment Act, stipulating that no land can be registered without production of the Record of Rights (RoR) showing the seller has the right, title and interest over the property.
The petitioner had approached the sub-registrar with the court order in this connection. But as no action was taken to register the land in his name, he later filed a contempt petition against Panda.