Observing that its earlier order of March 2022 has not been implemented by two builders – wherein their six months of civil sentence for contempt of court was suspended on undertaking that they will pay Rs 102 crore in instalments to Axis Finance – the Bombay High Court has directed the sentence be enforced.
A division bench of Justices KR Shriram and Arif Saleh Doctor on Thursday directed the builders Rajen Dhruv and Hiren Dhruv of Orbit Venture Constructions to remain present in the court on Friday for completing the legal formalities of surrender.
On March 23 this year, the HC had sentenced Rajen and Hiren Dhruv to six months of civil imprisonment after finding them guilty under the Contempt of Court Act for wilful disobedience of its earlier orders.
The orders were passed in a dispute between the order was in a dispute between Orbit Venture Developers and Axis Finance Ltd following a dispute between the two. The court had, however, suspended their sentence after they gave an undertaking that they will repay Rs 102 crore in six instalments beginning March 31. They had even given an undertaking that they would not create third-party rights in several flats in their project in Swarvoski Apartments in Khar West.
On Thursday it was brought to the court’s notice that the builders had failed to honour their commitment and undertaking of making the payment to Axis Finance in instalments. Also, Hiren had not failed to attend the court proceedings on the last few hearings.
The court had asked his counsel to ensure that he is present in the court in the course of the day.
He was accordingly present in the court in the evening.
As a last chance, the counsel requested court’s indulgence.
However, the court directed enforcement of its order dated March 22, 2022, regarding simple imprisonment of six months awarded to the builders for committing Contempt of Court.
The HC has kept the matter for hearing on Friday for completing the legal formalities of surrender.
The HC was hearing a plea filed by Axis Finance for recovery of Rs 163 crore from Orbit with 16.25 percent interest per year from January 1, 2021, till payment is done. As the account turned non-performing asset in December 2019, Axis initiated the recovery process under SARFAESI (Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets Act).
Under the Contempt of Courts Act, willful disobedience of court order or undertaking to court amounts to civil contempt of court. if the court feels necessary, a maximum sentence of 6 months has to be served in a civil prison.