Gauhati High Court: In this unique matter, the Bench of Sanjay Kumar Medhi, J.*, while expressing his shock over the facts of the instant case which he described as “a class of its own in the category of frivolous cases”, imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 for each of the counsels who signed a Vakalatnama for a petitioner who was totally non-existent. The Court sternly observed that counsels had taken the judicial process for a ride for more than last six years by instituting and continuing a case by a non-existing person.
The petitioner, Beolin Kharbhih in the instant case who claimed to be a distant relative of Sankar Prasad Nath, Ex-Deputy Superintendent of Police, CID, Assam. A case was projected that Sankar Prasad Nath was entrusted with some sensitive cases involving politically influential persons of Assam and Meghalaya for which he was receiving threats. The petitioner further claimed that Sankar Prasad Nath had lodged an FIR on 29-03-2007 but no action was taken. Unfortunately, on 09-06-2007, the said Sankar Prasad Nath was killed in a hit and run case and the petitioner claims that no proper investigation was done.
The petitioner also claimed the Sankar’s second wife died due to mysterious circumstances as well. The petitioner claimed to have made many representations for proper investigations for 2 deceased persons but was not paid heed to.
In the writ petition, as many as 26 persons were included as respondents including, one of the advocates of the Meghalaya High Court, who is presently a Judge in the said High Court. However, no specific allegation has been made against him.
Perusing the afore-stated facts of the case, the Court firstly noted that this case has been going on since 2016 and during the enquiry and investigation by the CID, it came to light that no person in the name of Beolin Kharbhih exists. The Court further pointed out that repeated attempts were made to trace the petitioner by way of various means such as notice. However, no success was achieved.
Deliberating over the issue in the instant writ petition, the Court observed that the status report as well as from other attending facts and circumstances that from the year 2016 till date, a writ petition has been pending in the name of a non-existing petitioner. Further, a Vakalatnama has been seen to be duly executed. “What further intrigues the Court is that there are other documents including applications made under the RTI by the petitioner Ms. Beolin Kharbhih which have been annexed as Annexures 10, 14, 16, 19 and 20 wherein the same signature as appearing in the affidavit and Vakalatnama exist. It further transpires that the petitioner has also annexed a reply by the State Bank of India to an application by the petitioner under RTI”.
The Court thus noted that the petition has been filed in a well-planned manner from which it is apparent that there has been a conspiracy. Berating the counsels for taking the judiciary for a ride, the Court stated that the role of the counsel who has appeared for the non-existing petitioner is absolutely important as the counsel who had accepted the case of the petitioner by signing the Vakalatnama and taking all steps from time to time on behalf of the non-existing petitioner.
Given the peculiar circumstances of the case, the Court imposed monetary costs on the counsels and directed the costs to deposited in favour of the Benevolent Fund of the Gauhati High Court Bar Association. Further, Court recommended that the matter be thoroughly enquired by the Bar Council of Assam, Nagaland etc. and appropriate steps be taken against the persons in accordance with law.
[Beolin Kharbhih v. State of Assam, 2023 SCC OnLine Gau 1074, decided on 23-03-2023]
*Order was written by Justice Sanjay Kumar Medhi
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Advocate for the Petitioner: H.S. Kalsi;
Advocate for the Respondent: F. Khan for R-6-8.