THE REPUBLIC vs DR. SEEME TRIPATHI - DHANANAJAY, EX PARTE CD INVESTMENT LTD
  • IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUDICATURE
    IN THE HIGH COURT (COMMERCIAL DIVISION)
    ACCRA - A.D 2018
THE REPUBLIC - (Plaintiff)
DR. SEEME TRIPATHI / DHANANAJAY EX-PARTE CD INVESTMENT LTD -(Defendants)

DATE:  4 TH JUNE, 2018
SUIT NO:  MISC/2/18
JUDGES:  SAVIOR QUARCOO KUDZE FOR RESPONDENT
LAWYERS:  SAVIOR QUARCOO KUDZE FOR RESPONDENT
JUDGMENT

 

The present application seeks to invoke the powers of this Court under Order 50 of CI 47 to punish the Respondent herein for contempt. The basis for the Applicant’s prayer can be found particularly in paragraphs 4 - 8 of the affidavits dated the 18th day of February 2018 and the supplementary affidavit of the 11th day of December, 2018 filed in support of the motion.

 

In sum, it is the case of Applicant that the Respondent is in flagrant breach of an order of this Court dated the 6th day of April, 2017 which, restrained the Defendants, its agents, assigns servants etc. from entering, occupying or dealing in anyway with Plaintiff’s land which is the subject matter of a pending suit. According to the Applicant, the Respondent has, in total disregard of the said order, entered upon the land in question and engaged in the development of same. This includes the construction of a high wall to which a gate has been fixed in order to prevent onlookers from gaining access or seeing the nature of developments taking place on the said land. Photographs marked EXHIBITS A, B and C have been attached to the application in proof of this contention.

 

The application is stoutly opposed by the Respondent. The Respondent vehemently denies flouting the said injunction order or engaging in any acts calculated at bringing the administration of justice into disrepute. It is his case that the disputed land is only four (4) plots out of the twenty (20) acres of land his company, Pharmanova Industries Ltd. had purchased from the Osabunya family of Old Ningo. He attached to his affidavit, photographs depicting construction of a wall on the land but maintains that this was undertaken long before the institution of the instant suit, when the Applicant had caused an extensive part of the said wall to be demolished. It is his position that the Applicant has no basis for bringing this application and prays that the same be dismissed.

 

Now, I think it is well settled that this Court has the power to punish a person for the willful disobedience of its orders or for engaging in conduct that tends to prejudice the outcome of a suit or bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The Court will however, only impose sanctions when such conduct is proved or established. The case of REPUBLIC v SITO EXPARTE FORDJOUR (2001 - 2002) SC GLR @ 222 outlines the elements necessary to ground a contempt charge as follows:

1) There must be a judgement or order requiring the contemnor to do or abstain from doing something

2) It must be shown that the contemnor knows what precisely he is expected to do or abstain from doing.

3) It must be shown that he failed to comply with the terms of the judgement or order and that his disobedience was willful.

 

It is significant to note that this Court has not had the benefit of sighting the order alleged to have been flouted by Respondent, as the same was not exhibited. I am therefore not in the position to comment on the nature or validity of same. It is however clear from a reading of the affidavits filed by both sides that there is no dispute regarding the fact that this Court on the 6th day of April, 2017, made an order restraining the Respondent from doing anything on the land in dispute. It is also evident that the order was fully understood by both Parties particularly the Respondent. Paragraphs 13, 14 and 15 of the affidavit in opposition compel me to this conclusion. Consequently, the question that remains to be answered is whether the Respondent has willfully or intentionally defied the order of this Court despite his knowledge and understanding of same.

 

This being an application for a quasi -criminal relief, the Applicant bore the burden of proving the offence beyond reasonable doubt. See SECTION 13 of the Evidence Act [NRCD 323]. As already noted, the Respondent maintains that construction of the wall shown in the Applicant’s EXHIBITS took place long before the Applicant instituted the present suit or obtained the order in question. In the supplementary affidavit, the Applicant does not deny that it was the one who caused the demolition of the Respondent’s wall. It also does not deny that this was before it issued the writ against Respondent. This fact is therefore deemed admitted by Respondent. See KUSI v KUSI v BONSU [2010] SCGLR 60.

 

I have also carefully examined EXHIBITS A, B and C by which the Applicant seeks to prove the continuous development of the land by Respondent and I fail to see how the same substantiate its assertions. For instance, EXHIBITS B and C fail to reveal any evidence of active development as at the dates stated thereon. It may very well be that the Respondent was indeed engaged in the development of the land at the time the said photographs were taken but as held in the Supreme Court case of BOAMAH & ANSAH SIKATUO V AMPONSAH [2012] 1SCGLR 58, in applications such as the present, the affidavit evidence must satisfy the Court beyond reasonable doubt that the Respondent is indeed guilty of the conduct complained of.

 

The law leaves no room for conjecture. I am therefore not satisfied that the Applicant has succeeded in establishing that the Respondent is in contempt of this Court. The application is accordingly dismissed.