Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that an implementing party cannot be subject to contempt of court in case of non-compliance to judicial order if there is any practical difficulty.
The High Court bench was hearing a review plea filed by the authorities who failed to provide the CCTV footage to the victim even after directions from the High Court. The authorities cited the reason for being unable to provide the CCTV footage as data used to get erased from the system automatically after 20 days.
The bench comprising Justice Augustine George Masih observed, “It is clarified that in case the said information is not available with the respondents and there is an automatic provision of erasing the CCTV footage to to no-retrieval thereof, the factum of non-compliance of the order passed by this court would in itself not render the respondents liable for proceedings under the Contempt of Court, an order, which cannot be complied with, practically would not amount to contempt.”
On November 20, 2015, a resident of Chandigarh, Ashish was reportedly assaulted in district and session court in Faridabad. Following his complaint, a DDR was recorded by the police.
The complainant claimed that his wife is posted in district and session court and he was assaulted at her instance in order to ensure that he may not come to pursue the face filed against her. He also alleged that the incident was recorded on the CCTV and involvement of the local staff among the assailants at the instance of his wife is highly probable.
On December 26, 2015, the complainant filed an RTI application seeking CCTV footage of the incident from the public information officer of district and session court.
However, his appeal was denied citing the reason that the required information is exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1)(g) of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Two RTI appeals were rejected. At last, the complainant moved the High Court.
Then on May 22, 2019, the High Court observed that disclosing information can endanger the life of a person and directed the authorities to provide CCTV footage to Ashish.