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in Constitutional Law
Asked February 24, 2014

Can the CM allowed to go against court decisions?

  • 1 Answer

I recently heard that the West Bengal Chief Minister allowed around 410 students who had not filled in their registration form, to appear for the West Bengal higher Secondary examination even though the single bench judge of Kolkata High Court rejected the plea of the petitioners (the unregistered students. Is the chief minister legally entitled to do that?

Answer 1

If a High Court order is not followed by the State Government or the Police, action would be taken against them as it amounts to Contempt of Court. The Police Commissioner and maybe even the Chief Minister would be summoned to Court, and if they refuse to acknowledge said summons, the High Court may direct central agencies to compel their appearance by arresting them. The power to punish for Contempt of Court is an inherent power of the High Court and Supreme Court, and there is no limit as to what they can do under that power, as long as it is not excessive. The government would be treated as any ordinary person would.

If the central government refuses to follow a Supreme Court order, it would lead to a Constitutional crisis. The Supreme Court can punish for Contempt, but if no agency were to help it enforce such punishment, our country would be engulfed in crisis, and it would be a standoff between the Executive and the Judiciary. The possibility is too scary to even think about, and no one for sure can tell you what would exactly happen if that were the case. It's almost certain, though, that our country would be going through the darkest time of her constitutional history.

In the present case, Chief minister, Mamta Banerjee has passed an order to issue admit cards to the 410 students who were not officially registered to the West Bengal Higher Education Board, as a result of which they were barred from appearing in the Board examinations. As a consequence, a suit was filed in the High Court of Kolkata and the Court ruled against the students and after which such order was passed by Mamta Banerjee. At the first instance, it does seem to be a case of contempt of court for which the Chief Minister could be charged with Section 2(b) of the Contempt of Courts Act of 1971, which deals with civil contempt.

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