Madras High Court: G.R. Swaminathan, J., emphasised that all stakeholders in the process of administration of justice should discharge their commitments sincerely.
The High Court was set to dispose of a second appeal filed before it in a suit for malicious prosecution. The defendants in the suit had earlier filed a complaint against the plaintiff, who was acquitted by the Judicial Magistrate. Alleging that it was a false complaint filed only to victimise him, the plaintiff filed a suit for malicious prosecution claiming damages from the defendants. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s suit, but the first Appellate Court ruled in his favour. Aggrieved, the defendants filed the second appeal which was before the High Court.
Noting the ‘substantial questions of law’ on which the second appeal was admitted, the High Court went on to observe that the formulation conveyed no meaning, it made no sense at all.
“Choosing to be frank with an eye on future“, the Court recorded that although Section 100(4) CPC states that where the High Court is satisfied that a substantial question of law is involved in any case, it shall formulate that question, what mostly happens in practice is not in strict consonance with the statutory mandate.
The Court said:
“Since Section 100(3) CPC states that the appeal memorandum shall precisely state the substantial question of law involved in the appeal, once the Judge is satisfied that a case has been made out for admitting the second appeal, instead of independently formulating the substantial question of law arising in the appeal, instruction is given to the stenographer to copy down certain particular grounds from the appeal memorandum.”
It further noted that if the counsel’s formulation is flawed and defective, the Court record also carries the same vice. Underscoring the commitment that Justice and the judicial system demands, the Court observed:
“Since the judicial workload is staggering, it is not fair to expect the judges to expend too much time and energy in proof-reading. The counsel must assume greater responsibility. They must deeply study the case record. Their grasp of the legal principles must be thorough and accurate. The distilled understanding must be reflected in the appeal grounds. They must be properly drafted. There should not be grammatical and spelling errors. The role of stenographers and typists is equally significant. Only if all the stakeholders discharge their commitments sincerely, howlers like what we saw now can be avoided.“
Then, the High Court reframed the substantial questions of law involved in the second appeal and decided the appeal on merits holding that only Defendant 1 (out of six defendants) was liable; and the plaintiff was awarded damages amounting to Rs 50,000 with interest. The full report of this case where the High Court has had an elaborate discussion on liability in a suit for malicious prosecution, can be read here: LINK.
[M. Abubaker v. Abdul Kareem, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 1934, decided on 21-4-2021 ]