Bom HC | Court directs lodging of complaint against litigant for contumacious conduct of forging thumb impression on Vakalatnama, imposes costs of Rs 10,000

Bombay High Court: Ujjal Bhuyan, J., while dismissing a petition filed under Article 227 of the Constitution, imposed costs of Rs 10,000 on the petitioners for contumacious conduct.

The subject petition was filed by four petitioners for quashing the order passed by the Additional Collector (Encroachment/Eviction). During the course of the proceedings, the respondents pointed out that Petitioner 4 was not a resident in India and had not given instructions to file the present petition on his behalf. It was pointed out that petitioner 4 had filed a police complaint where he had put his signatures on the complaint. Therefore, it was submitted, if Petitioner 4 had put his signatures on the said complaint, then there was no question of him putting his thumb impression on the instant petition.

Further enquiry ensued, and the Petitioners 1 to 3 were unable to fathom as to how the thumb impression was affixed on the vakalatnama and that they had no answer to it. Nonetheless, they tendered an apology for the inconvenience caused to the Court, requested the Court to take a lenient view, and sought permission to withdraw the petition.

After hearing the matter at some length, the High Court was of the view that there was no proper explanation regarding the thumb impression on the vakalatnama filed by the petitioners stating the same to be that of petitioner 4. After hearing the parties and on due consideration, the court was of the view that petitioners had not only approached the Court with clean hands, but their conduct appeared to be contumacious as well, besides attracting relevant provisions of the Penal Code.

The Court observed: “It is trite that a person seeking equitable relief from the Court, must approach the Court with clean hands. If the Court finds that such a person has not approached the Court with clean hands and has taken resort to means which are highly questionable, not only would be disentitled to any relief from the Court but would also be liable to face such other action as is contemplated in law, more particularly under the Penal Code.”

In such view of the matter, the High Court dismissed the writ petition and directed Petitioners 1 to 3 to deposit costs of Rs 10,000 with the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority within 4 weeks. Besides, the Registry was directed to take necessary steps for lodging complaint under CrPC as well as under the Penal Code. [Sandra D’ Souza v. State of Maharashtra, Writ Petition (ST) No. 32521 of 2017, decided on 06-12-2019]

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