The Supreme Court has stayed a non-bailable warrant issued by the Allahabad High Court against Noida CEO Ritu Maheshwari for contempt of court and listed the matter for hearing tomorrow.
The Allahabad High Court on May 5 told the police to arrest her and bring her to court for the next hearing on May 13, after she failed to reach the court on time in a contempt case.
Yesterday, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had refused to grant a stay on the non-bailable warrant against Ms Maheshwari, who is also an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer. The Chief Justice had yesterday said he would like to see Ms Maheshwari’s petition properly before deciding whether he should list it at all, and had criticised the Noida CEO over “not respecting court orders”.
“As an IAS officer, she knows the rules and laws. If you do not respect the court orders, then you must face the music. Every day we see this is happening, especially in Allahabad High Court. One or the other officer is coming before us seeking relief against the high court passing some order against them for defiance of court,” the Chief Justice had said.
Today, the Noida CEO’s lawyer Mukul Rohatgi sought a stay on the high court order and an urgent hearing on the issue. “She is the Noida CEO and an IAS officer. She reached Allahabad High Court just half-an-hour late and the high court issued a non-bailable warrant against her,” Mr Rohatgi said.
The Chief Justice then stayed the high court’s order.
The Allahabad High Court case is linked to a matter about land acquisition where the high court had quashed the Noida authority’s land acquisition orders and ordered it to pay compensation to the petitioner. But despite the orders, the Noida authority did not pay the compensation, which led to contempt proceedings and the Noida CEO being summoned by the court.
On Thursday, the Allahabad High Court had strongly objected to Ms Maheshwari failing to appear before the court on time despite several notices. She was expected to appear in court at 10 am but her lawyer told the court that she was taking a flight from Delhi at 10:30 am.
The high court in its order said, “She was supposed to be here at 10 am. Therefore, the court cannot countenance the conduct of the CEO, Noida, in taking flight after the functioning of the court starts and expecting the court to wait for her and take up the matter after she reaches the court. This conduct of the CEO is reprehensible and amounts to contempt of court, in as much as she has been summoned by the court in a contempt proceeding for non-compliance with an order passed by writ court.”
“She was expected to be present in court when the functioning of the court starts at 10 am, rather she chose to take a flight at 10:30 am from Delhi deliberately with the expectation that the court will take up the matter as per her convenience,” the high court said.