Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Supreme Court quashes non-bailable warrant against Noida CEO Ritu Maheshwari in contempt case

The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the non-bailable warrant issued by the Allahabad High Court against senior IAS officer and Chief Executive Officer of New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) Ritu Maheshwari, for failing to appear in a contempt case.

The Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud directed the Allahabad High Court to expedite the contempt proceedings in a land acquisition case.

The CJI today noted that on April 28, the High Court had directed personal presence of Maheshwari. The non-bailable warrant (NBW) was issued against her, saying that on May 13, she shall be brought in police custody to the High Court. This order was stayed on May 10 by the Apex Court.

Justice Chandrachud noted that Nadkarni had submitted that the Noida CEO could not arrive on time due to delay in flight. 
Senior Advocate A.M. Singhvi today contended that they would not press for the NBW since they wanted compliance of the order of this court.

The Apex Court directed that an officer below CEO shall be present, along with the officer-in-charge of acquisition proceedings.

Earlier on May 13, the Apex Court had extended the interim stay on Maheshwari’s arrest till further orders.

The Bench of then Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justice J.K. Maheshwari and Justice Hima Kohli further issued notices to 12 people, including the District Magistrate and the Additional District Magistrate of Noida on the plea of the CEO and sought their responses.
The contempt case before the High Court  arose because of the non-compliance of the High Court order by Noida CEO, who was directed to compensate the petitioners in relation to a land acquisition dispute.

The bench expressed its concern towards issuing a NBW on the reason that Maheshwari had reached the High Court but got late, and her lawyer had sought some more time.

While addressing Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, who was appearing for the contempt petitioner, the CJI questioned, ”Suppose you are appearing in a matter, your junior would say my senior is coming. Is this the way?”

Singh informed the Bench that another judge shall be hearing the matter now, so kindly allow her the audience, else the contempt jurisdiction would close for all times to come.

The Apex Court told Maheshwari’s Counsel, “This has become routine, we have seen in several cases, You acquire land, take away land, and don’t pay compensation and they’ve to go around courts. After reaching the Supreme Court also, you don’t wanna follow orders? Better advise your client to comply.”

The Allahabad High Court had earlier issued non-bailable warrant against Maheshwari in the land acquisition matter.


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