1. The appellant having been convicted upon an application filed under Section 12, of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') has preferred this appeal. The abridged facts relevant for the disposal of this appeal are that in writ petition M.P. No. 2159 of 1986, filed by the present respondent No. 1 Hari Shankar Bhandari, the Division Bench of the High Court rejected the unqualified apology of the appellant, convicted him and directed him to pay a fine of Rs. 2,000/- in default of payment of fine, a simple imprisonment of one month. It was further directed that the fine amount, if recovered, will be paid to the original petitioner Hari Shankar Bhandari as compensation for the inconvenience suffered by him. The facts, however, show that after the disposal of the writ petition on 12th April, 1988 whereby it was directed that the petitioner's pension case should be finalised within three months from the date of the Order and all dues in regard to pension etc. shall be paid to him within one month thereafter with interest at 12% per annum together with Rs. 100/- by way of costs, the authorities then incharge of the matter did not finalise the case till the appellant assumed charge of office as Chief Health & Medical Officer on 15th January, 1993. Obviously, therefore, in regard to the inaction on the part of the officers whom the appellant succeeded on 15th January, 1993 the appellant cannot be blamed for the same. After the appointment of the appellant as the Chief Health and Medical Officer, it seems that he was served with a notice in the contempt petition which had already been filed long back bearing No. MCC 209 of 1991. Notice was served upon him as late as 31-12-1993 and the matter was posted for hearing on 18-1-1994. Immediately thereafter, the appellant looked into the matter and paid the arrears of pension from 1-9-1982 to 31 -10-1989 to the present respondent No. 1. Interest on the pension amount for the period from 1 -5-1988 to 20-1-1994 as well as on the gratuity amount totalling Rs. 20,208/- was sent to respondent No. 1 herein on 25-1-1994 but the respondent No. 1 refused to accept the cheque. Subsequently, he accepted the cheque and was paid a further amount of Rs. 2,681/ - as gratuity on 31 -1 -1994. Thus, before the date of the impugned Order passed on 1 -2-1994 the entire payment was cleared. It would, therefore, appear that immediately after the appellant learnt about the pendency of the matter on receipt of the contempt notice, he took immediate action and saw to it that within a month's time the entire payment was made in obedience of the Court's Order. Notwithstanding the same he tendered an unqualified apology for the delay that had taken place in his Department but unfortunately the Division Bench did not accept his unqualified apology merely because he had stated in Court that the payment was the responsibility of the treasury and therefore, he was not responsible. That was because he had drawn upon the cheque and it was then the responsibility of the treasury to clear it. That was not a statement on the basis of which his unconditional apology deserved to be rejected. It is also pertinent to note that he did not raise a technical objection that the contempt application could not have been initiated after the expiry of the period prescribed by Section 20, of the Act. In fact he took prompt action to ensure that the Order of the Court was complied with in letter and spirit immediately after he took charge and learnt about the inaction on the part of his predecessor. We, therefore, fail to understand how he could be hauled up for contempt in the above circumstances.
2. In the result, we allow this appeal, set aside the Order of conviction and sentence and direct that the fine, if not passed on to the original petitioner should be refunded to him. No notice of the impugned Order should be taken so far as his service record is concerned. There will be no Order as to costs.