Premji case: SC issues norms for proceedings before HC

SC concerned over delay in Karnataka HC on contempt proceedings for frivolous plea against Premji

The top court issued directions to ensure the speedy disposal of contempt proceedings against  'India Awake for Transparency' and others before the High Court

Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Supreme Court has expressed concern over techniques adopted by an NGO and others on delaying contempt proceedings before the Karnataka High Court for filing a frivolous complaint against business tycoon and philanthropist Azim Premji.

"It appears that there is undoubtedly an endeavour to obfuscate proceedings before the Karnataka High Court and the matter is being dragged on unnecessarily to prevent the culmination of the same," a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M M Sundresh said.

The court noted that interlocutory applications were being filed for splitting proceedings, postponement of filing of replies, assailing sanction granted by the Advocate General and so on.

The top court issued directions to ensure the speedy disposal of contempt proceedings against  'India Awake for Transparency' and others before the High Court.

"In normal circumstances, it is not for us to lay down as to how the High Court should proceed with the matter but the manner in which these proceedings have gone on disturbs us," the bench said.

The court explained it adopted the "unusual practice" on laying down norms as to how the two sides pursue the matter so that there is a culmination of the proceedings.

The court said no further interlocutory applications would be entertained by the High Court. It also restricted time for oral arguments to half an hour each for both the parties and filing of short synopsis not running more than three pages. 

Senior advocate S Ganesh and Advocate Vipin Nair appeared for Premji. The other side was represented by advocate R Subramanian.

The court directed the matter for consideration on January 21, 2022.

The High Court had imposed Rs 10 lakh costs on the NGO for filing multiple petitions seeking registration of a case against Premji and others. It had decided to initiate contempt proceedings against the NGO for filing frivolous petitions.

In December, 2020, the top court had stayed the proceedings against Premji and his wife before a Bengaluru court on a private complaint filed in 2017 by the Chennai-based NGO, alleging illegally transferring assets worth many crores, from three companies into a private trust and a newly formed company.  

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