Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Stating that the manner in which Court records tampered was insidious and revealed a well-planned and methodical attempt to subvert the justice system in order to escape conviction in the Main Uphaar Case, Subramonium Prasad, J., held that since the matter relates to tampering of judicial record, the same has to be decided expeditiously in order to ensure faith of the public in the judicial system.

Petitioners challenged the decision of Additional Sessions Judge, Patiala House Courts, which rejected the applications of the petitioners under Section 389(2) of CrPC for suspension of sentence during the pendency of the appeal.

Factual Background

Uphaar Cinema Tragedy

The genesis of the entire proceedings stemmed from the devastating fire that occurred in Uphaar Cinema which resulted in the death of 59 people due to asphyxia and caused injuries to more than 100 people.

After the police investigation, the same was transferred to the CBI. The charge sheet was filed against 16 persons, including the petitioners. Due to delay in trial, the petition was filed by the Association of Victims of Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT) before this Court for expeditious trial.

This Court had directed the trial court to complete the examination of prosecution witnesses on a day-to-day basis. Adding to this, Court also directed that no adjournments would be granted for non-availability of a defence counsel resulting in deferring of the cross-examination of a prosecution witness and in that event, it would be open to the Trial Court to take recourse to various options in terms of Section 309 Cr.P.C, including closure of cross-examination or cancellation of bail of the accused persons.

Special Public Prosecutor brought to the notice of the Court that certain important documents that were seized by the investigating agencies during the course of investigation, which were part of the charge-sheet and judicial record, were missing/mutilated and had been tampered with. Hence, the Court granted permission to prosecution for leading secondary evidence to prove that certain documents were found to be missing/mutilated.

Tampering of Documents

Additional Sessions Judge directed for an inquiry against Dinesh Chandra Sharma, the Court Ahlmad. It is pertinent to mention here that Dinesh Chandra Sharma took charge as the Court Ahlmad in the Court in which trial of the main Uphaar case was being concluded. Pursuant to the inquiry, it was found that Dinesh Chandra Sharma was prima facie guilty of misconduct as well as for the loss and tampering with the documents which formed a part of the judicial record.

Later an application was filed before the Sessions Court for cancellation of bail granted to the accused in the Main Uphaar case. The Sessions Court dismissed the application on the ground that the trial in the main Uphaar case was at its fag end.

The above order was challenged along with the application of filing of FIR against petitioners and other co-accused for tampering with the Court records. Hence, Delhi Police was directed to register a case against persons who were responsible for the disappearance/mutilation and tampering of documents.

Hence an FIR was registered for the offences under Sections 109,193,201, 218, 409 and 120B of the Penal Code, 1860.

In the instant matter, initially, the FIR was registered only against the Court Ahlmad. Subsequently, charge sheets were filed, and petitioners were arrayed as accused. Trial Court relied upon various circumstances to come to the conclusion that there was motive on the part of the accused to destroy the documents which had been entrusted to Dinesh Chandra Sharma who was the Court Ahlmad.

Petitioners vide an order dated 8-11-2021 were convicted for offences under Sections 120B and 409 IPC read with Section 201 IPC and sentenced to undergo imprisonment for seven years with a fine of Rupees 1 Crore only; for offence punishable under Section 409 IPC read with Section 120B IPC, the petitioners were sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 3 years with a fine of Rs 1 crore only and for an offence punishable under Section 201 IPC read with Section 120B IPC, the Petitioners were sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for three years with a fine of Rs 25 lakhs.

Additional Sessions Judge dismissed the application of petitioners under Section 389(2) of CrPC for suspension of sentence, hence the said decision has been challenged in the present case.

What does the matter pertain to?

Tampering with Court records which obstructs the free flow of justice and has the effect of striking to the core of the rule of law.

Analysis, Law and Decision

Existence of Conspiracy

As per the material on record, the accused P.P. Batra who was a stenographer at Ansal Properties and Infrastructure Ltd. (APIL) as well as the pairvi for the petitioners was in regular touch with Dinesh Chandra Sharma, the Court Ahlmad, till the time it was discovered that documents had been tampered with.

It is well settled that conspiracy is a distinct offence and all conspirators are liable for the acts of each other for the crime or crimes which have been committed as a result of the conspiracy.

It is equally well settled that the offence of criminal conspiracy consists of a meeting of minds of two or more persons for agreeing to do or causing to be done an illegal act or an act by illegal means and the performance of an act in tune thereof [State of H.P. v. Krishan Lal Pardhan, (1987) 2 SCC 17].

High Court opined that the Trial Court’s conclusion was based on analysis of the material on record to establish that there indeed was a conspiracy in place and the petitioners were involved in the same.

Bench added that the tampered documents were handpicked in order to shield the petitioners from conviction by ensuring that their control over Uphaar Cinema did not come to light.

Documents pertaining to Bhikaji Cama Place Fire Station and the headquarters, Delhi Fire Service would have exhibited and brought home the point that the accused H.S. Panwar had given bogus NOCs to Uphaar Cinema without conducting the physical inspection of the cinema and despite the cinema not having followed the mandate of the law laid down regarding the fire safety in Delhi.

Hence, prima facie it was established that there was an agreement to hatch a conspiracy that had the potential of leading to the exoneration of petitioners.

It is also settled law that one who commits an overt act with the knowledge of the conspiracy is guilty, along with one who tacitly consents to the object of conspiracy and goes along with other conspirators.

Therefore, the trial court had correctly concluded with regard to observations about conspiracy.

Parameters of Section 389 CrPC vis-à-vis Section 439 CrPC

While granting the suspension of sentence, the scope of Section 389 CrPC has to be kept in mind.

It is well settled now that there is a difference between the factors that have to be taken into consideration for grant of bail under Section 439 Cr.P.C prior to conviction and grant of suspension of sentence under Section 389 Cr.P.C which is post-conviction for the simple reason that presumption of innocence is no longer applicable to the person who stands convicted for an offence.

In the present matter, the petitioners were convicted for the offence of tampering with the Court records which was an extremely serious offence and could shake the confidence of the public in the entire judicial system.

The Bench added that there was no presumption of innocence that was in favour of the petitioners.

High Court opined that there was no patent infirmity in the order of the trial court.

Public Confidence in the Judicial System

High Court expressed that one of the most important factors while considering an application under Section 389 CrPC is to decipher the effect that such a decision may be on public confidence in the judicial system.

In the Supreme Court’s decision of Mohan Singh v. Amar Singh, (1998) 6 SCC 686, the Court held that tampering with the record of judicial proceedings and filing of a false affidavit in a court of law has the tendency of causing obstruction in the due course of justice. It undermines and obstructs free flow of the unsoiled stream of justice and aims at striking a blow at the rule of law. The stream of justice has to be kept clear and pure, and no one can be permitted to take liberties with it by soiling its purity.

Bench found the petitioners in the present matter to be guilty of tampering with the evidence that was in custody of the Court. In case, the said tampering would not have been brought o Court’s notice, it would have interfered with the administration of justice.

“…suspending the sentence of the Petitioners would, therefore, amount to eroding the faith of the public in the judicial system as it would entail allowing convicts, whose finding of guilt has already been established, to take advantage of the passage of time as well as the judiciary as an institution.”

While dismissing the petition, High Court observed that the petitioners herein inhabit the stigma of desecrating the temple of justice and a quietus needs to be put to the same.

Bench requested Appellate Court to expedite and complete the hearings within a period of one month. [Sushil Ansal v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 482, decided on 16-2-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner (Sushil Ansal) : Mr. Arvind Nigam, Senior Advocate with Mr. Tanveer Ahmed Mir, Mr. Dhruv Gupta, Mr. Vaibhav Suri, Mr. Shivaz Berry and Mr. Siddharth Kashyap, Advocates.

For the Respondent: Dayan Krishnan, Sr. Advocate with Mr. Amit Chadha, APP, Ms. Manvi Priya, SPP, Mr. A.T. Ansari, Mr. Sanjeevi Seshadri and Mr. Sukrit Seth, Advocates with IO/SI Nikhil Chaudhary, PS EOW.
Mr. Vikas Pahwa, Sr. Advocate with Ms. Raavi Sharma, Advocate for the Complainant.

For Gopal Ansal: Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sr. Advocate with Mr. N. Hariharan, Sr. Advocate with Mr. Pramod K. Dubey, Sr. Advocate with Mr. Amit Bhandari, Mr. Vikas Aggarwal, Mr. Nishaank Mattoo, Mr. Avishkar Singhvi, Mr. Siddharth Singh Yadav, Mr. Vikalp Sharma, Advocates

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: The Division Bench of Vivek Rusia and Rajendra Kumar (Verma), JJ., held that,

If a Kazi entertains a dispute and acts as a mediator to settle the dispute between the members of the community that would be permissible, but he cannot adjudicate the dispute like a court and pass an order like a decree.

A Public Interest Litigation was filed alleging that respondents 4 to 8 were running parallel judicial system against the provisions of the Constitution of India and also against the established system of law and justice in this country. It was stated that they were running their own courts and passing orders and decrees in their personal matters.

Petitioner claimed himself to be a victim of such type of orders passed by respondent 7. Further, the petitioner filed one of the orders passed by respondent 7 on an application filed by his wife for divorce which was called “Khula” by making all sorts of allegations against him. She sought Talaq under the Kanoon-A-Shariat.

According to the petitioner, respondent 7 had proceeded with the matter and ordered the Talaq (divorce) by way of Khula which was not permissible under the Indian judicial system. The petitioner had alleged that respondent 7 under the shelter of respondents 4, 5 & 6 was entertaining such types of disputes and passing the orders in the matter which were liable to be brought before the Court for adjudication.

Since no action was taken, the petitioner approached this Court by way of the Public Interest Litigation.

Respondent 6, All India Muslim Personal Law Board had submitted that the personal law relating to marriage and dissolution of marriage has to be governed by the personal law of Muslims as recognized by them in terms of their religious denominational texts. It is further submitted that clear instructions are given to Kazis who are appointed by the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board not to entertain the disputes wherein the parties thereof have already approached the Court of Law or do not consent for an amicable resolution of the dispute. Thus, they are not parallel judicial systems established in derogation of or in conflict with the recognized judicial system in the country.

Analysis and Discussion

High Court stated that in view of the Supreme Court decision in Vishwa Lochan Madan v. Union of India, (2014) 7 SCC 707 and the arguments advanced by the Senior Counsel A.M. Mathur, the order passed by Chief Kazi on an application filed by respondent 8 had no legal sanctity.

The Bench held that the Kazi is only entitled to enter into a negotiation/mediation between parties in order to settle the dispute.

Additionally, the Court added that, the Legal Services Authority, Jabalpur and Indore has trained more than 70 volunteers of different communities and religions to act as mediators to settle the dispute between the members of the community out of Court.

While disposing of the writ petition, High Court stated that this Court won’t express any opinion in respect of the matrimonial dispute of the parties though they are free to avail the remedy available under the law.[Aadil v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine MP 123, decided on 12-1-2022]

Advocates before the Court:

Harish Kumar Sharma, counsel for the petitioner.

Aniket Naik, counsel for respondent 1.

A.M. Mathur, Senior Advocate with Shri V. Asawa for the respondents 6 & 7.

Vivek Dalal, AAG for the respondent/State.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: While enunciating that “Nobility and contribution to freedom struggle of our nation are the two attributes which rush to our minds whenever and wherever the profession of law practice is ever referred to” the Division Bench of Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Narendra Kumar Johari, JJ., stated that, judiciary neither has power of sword nor that of purse, it stands tall only by virtue of trust and faith of people.

 This Court was called upon to deal with the criminal contempt proceedings instituted on a letter dated 17-8-2001 written by the then District Judge, Gonda whereby a reference had been made to initiate contempt proceedings against 12 lawyers.

“It is painful for this Court to deal with the contempt proceedings drawn against the lawyers who are supposed to be the officers of the Court first and whose role stands recorded in the annals of history in strengthening the judiciary of our country which is supposed to embark upon a perilous and painstaking path of imparting justice to our citizenry.”

Further, the Bench observed that, in the present times, Court had noticed the uncalled for and unwarranted conduct/behavior of the lawyers which has the potential of eroding the faith and trust of the public in the judicial system.

What did the letter contain?

The said letter of the District Judge contained allegations that on 01-12-2000 the lawyers resolved to go on strike and boycott the court of First Civil Judge (Junior Division), Gonda and on that date the respondents-lawyers along with their colleagues indulged in an act of destruction and throwing away the records of the said court. However, further mishappenning could be avoided as the Presiding Officer of the said court went on leave. The letter further stated that on 01-12-2000 itself the respondents and their fellow advocates misbehaved with the then In-charge District Judge.

The allegation in the letter further was that the District Judge took charge on 11-08-2000 and immediately thereafter he received certain complaints about the functioning of the then Chief Judicial Magistrate. The letter further stated that a complaint was received against the then Chief Judicial Magistrate in respect of certain misconduct regarding his misbehaviour with a girl whose statement was recorded by him under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The District Judge in the said letter had further stated that he went to Allahabad to apprise the Registrar General of this Court.

On 14.11.2000 the lawyers passed a resolution to go on strike on the said date on the instigation of the then Chief Judicial Magistrate and the First Additional District Judge.

The letter also stated that for maintaining peace and order in the court premises, on the request of the District Judge, police personnels were deployed and it is in these circumstances that the District Judge by the said letter requested to initiate contempt proceedings against the contemners.

High Court Decision

In the instant matter, what Court noted was that the notices were issued only on 31-10-2001 and accordingly the rigour of Section 20 of the Contempt of Courts Act will operate in this case as well.

Another significant point which was noted was that out of 12 respondents, 6 respondents have since died.

Further, it stated that all the respondents are senior citizens, who are aged between 62 years to 78 years. The incidents, on the basis of which contempt proceedings have been instituted, are said to have occurred about 21 years ago.

Respondents who are alive had submitted their unqualified apology and condemned their alleged incidents.

In view of the above stated, Bench opined that the present matter now needs to be given a quietus, on accepting the apology of the respondents.

Before parting with the matter, Court wanted to put on record its anguish and concern emanating from the reports which this Court receives almost on daily basis about the conduct and behaviour of the Advocates.

Certain observations have been made about the nature of the legal profession by Supreme Court in the case of R. Muthur Krishnan v. Registrar General, (2019) 16 SCC 407, Ex Capt. Harish Uppal v. Union of India, (2003) 2 SCC 45 and certain other decisions.

Lastly, the High Court stated that

“We understand that the approach of the Court while dealing with contempt specially against the lawyers should be correctional…”

Court hopes that no such incident shall be repeated. [State of U.P. v. Rama Kant Pandey, 2021 SCC OnLine All 918, decided on 24-12-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

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 ]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Manmohan and Asha Menon, JJ., remarked that the present case reflected the bane of the Indian Judicial System, namely, that there is no finality attached to any judicial proceeding.

Instant appeal was filed challenging the judgment and decree dated 18-11-2013 passed by a Single Judge of this Court accompanied by an application seeking condonation of delay under Section 14 of the Limitation Act.

As per the appellant the Single judge had failed to consider that the appellant was not a party to the compromise on the basis of which the civil suit was decreed and thus the finding of the Court that ‘the parties have settled the matter on the following terms’ did not apply to the appellant.

Further, it was added that the handwritten statements on the Index of the Compromise Application stating that ‘This is a joint application by all parties. They are duly served’ were false, as at no juncture, a copy of the said application had been served on the appellant and therefore, on this short score, the impugned judgment was liable to be set aside.

Single Judge had failed to consider that an application for compromise under Order XXIII Rule 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 without the signatures/consent of all parties to the lis could not be allowed against all parties to the lis and be converted into a decree of the Court.

Lastly, the appellant contended that the Single Judge had failed to appreciate that it is settled law that a self-acquired property could not be partitioned during the lifetime of the owner. He contended that the Trial Court had failed to consider that the plaint was a collusive action filed by the respondents in order to lay a concocted claim whereby the plaintiff and his brothers allocated lion’s share of the said property to each other.

High Court’s reasoning

A consent decree is a contract with the imprimatur of the courts superadded.  ‘Lawful Compromise’ means that the agreement or compromise must not be unlawful by the nature of its terms or on the face of it.

‘Consent decree’ is something more than a mere contract and has elements of both command and contract. ‘Lawful Compromise’ would be unlawful if the consideration or the object of the agreement is forbidden by law or is of such a nature that if permitted it would defeat the provision of any law, or is fraudulent or the court regards it as immoral or opposed to the public policy as provided by Section 23 of the Contract Act.

High Court found that the present appeal had been preferred after a delay of over two thousand three hundred and thirty-one days. Appellant voluntarily chose not to enter appearance and therefore she was proceeded ex-parte. Consequently, the limitation for filing the present appeal shall commence from the date of the impugned judgment and order and not from the date of alleged knowledge of the judgment and decree.

Court stated that the appellant would not be entitled to the benefit of Section 14 of the Limitation Act as even the prior proceeding initiated by the appellant had not been filed within limitation and also the said prior proceeding had not been filed due to defect of jurisdiction or other cause of like nature.

No prejudice had been caused to the appellant by the impugned judgment and decree dated 18th November, 2013 as the said decree recognises her share in the suit property as accepted by her in the Family Settlement dated 23rd December, 1999, especially in the absence of any challenge to the said family settlement.

 No prejudice was caused to the appellant.

Further, the submission of the counsel for the appellant that a self-acquired property could not be partitioned during the lifetime of the owner, in view of the Family Settlement dated 23rd December, 1999 duly executed and signed by the appellant is a mixed question of fact and law and it required the appellant to lead evidence.

On the basis of a bald averment in the appeal, the suit filed by the respondent cannot be held to be ex-facie barred in law.

The only remedy to the appellant in the present matter was to prefer an application under Order IX Rule 13, or under Section 114 CPC.

Not even a ‘modicum of explanation’ was offered during the hearing as to why the ex-parte order be recalled or set aside.

High Court expressed that the Additional District Judge had given a clear finding, which order had not been challenged in the present proceedings.

 Adding to the above, High Court elaborated that

There is no law which stipulates that a court is bound to serve any compromise application on a party who had willingly allowed it to be proceeded ex-parte.

To accept the submission of the appellant would amount to reading into the Statue a duty upon the Court to ‘run after a litigant’ who had voluntarily turned to its back to the legal system – a duty which is not provided in any statute.

A bare perusal of the Family Settlement reflects that the appellant had signed on each page of it and the same was based on mutual consent and agreement. In fact, the mutation was also carried out with respect to this 1/6th portion in accordance with the said Family Settlement.

Concluding the matter, Bench held that to now recall or vary the decree at the instance of the appellant who was negligent in defending her rights would amount to placing premium on ‘callousness’ and would place the parties who diligently pursued the litigation at all stages at a serious disadvantage.

Therefore, Court stated that any judicial system which does not provide finality to disputes, can never earn the trust, confidence and goodwill of the society.

Hence, present appeal was dismissed both as barred by limitation as well as on merits. [Deepshree Singh v. Rishi Pratap Singh, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 2348, decided on 20-05-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

For the appellant: Ankur Mahindro, Advocate with Rohan Taneja, Advocate.

For the Respondents: Kritika Bhardwaj, Advocate for R-1 to3 & 5 to 8.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Division Bench of *Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ., addressed the instant case dealing with vexatious complaint. The Bench, while expressing concern over such practises emphasised over the need of scrutinising such complaints at its initiation. The Bench said,

“The Trial Judge has a duty under the Constitution and the CrPC, to identify and dispose of frivolous litigation at an early stage by exercising, substantially and to the fullest extent, the powers conferred on him.”

The fact of the case was that the parties had been at loggerheads from 2006 onwards.  It was the case of the respondent  that the Appellants came to his house, beat him and his wife with iron rods, and threatened to kill them. Similar counter-allegations were made by the appellants against the respondent. On 05-08-2012, the respondent filed a Non Cognizable Report (NCR) No. 158 of 2012 and the Appellant had filed a counter-complaint as NCR No. 160 of 2012. Later on, the appellant had filed an application under Section 155(2) of CrPC before the Magistrate, almost 5 years after the alleged incident, seeking permission for the police to investigate NCR No. 160 of 2012.

Being unsatisfied with the allegations made and charge sheet filed against him, the Respondent instituted a fresh private complaint against the Appellant under Section 200 of CrPC Complaint Case No. 2943 of 2018 in respect of the very incident that took place on 05-08-2012 regarding which compensation had been already paid by the appellant but the allegations of fraud, injury to bull, forging of affidavit, etc. which were not found in the 2012 complaint were also found in the private complaint.

While criticising the rehashing of same incident in the private complaint given that Appellant had already been convicted for the offence, which was of no relevance to the present case, the Bench cited the judgment of Upkar Singh v. Ved Prakash, (2004)

13 SCC 292, wherein it had been held that, any further complaint by the same complainant or others against the same accused, subsequent to the registration of a case, is prohibited under the Code because an investigation in this regard would have already started and further complaint against the same accused will amount to an improvement on the facts mentioned in the original complaint, hence will be prohibited under Section 162 of the Code.

The same principle would also apply where a person gives information of a non cognizable offence and subsequently lodges a private complaint with respect to the same offence against the same accused person.

“The complainant cannot subject the accused to a double whammy of investigation by the police and inquiry before the Magistrate.”

In Amitbhai Anilchandra Shah v. CBI, (2013) 6 SCC 348, the Supreme Court had held that, that a second FIR in respect of an offence or different offences committed in the course of the same transaction is not only impermissible but it violates Article 21 of the Constitution.

“Permitting multiple complaints by the same party in respect of the same incident, whether it involves a cognizable or private complaint offence, will lead to the accused being entangled in numerous criminal proceedings. As such, he would be forced to keep surrendering his liberty and precious time before the police and the Courts…”

Noticing that as on 05-08-2012, appellant 1 was a 76 year old man and appellant 2 was suffering from epileptic seizures; and appellant 4 was of unsound mind, the Bench opined that there was no equity in allowing them to be dragged into criminal proceedings pertaining to a petty offence, instituted 6 years after the alleged incident. Since, respondent’s conduct in filing a delayed complaint case, suppressing material facts, and utilising fresh proceedings to materially improve on his earlier version, in totality, said the Bench, amounted to gross abuse of the process of court.

Role of the Lower Judiciary in Preventing Abuse of Court Process

The Bench, while expressing concern, remarked,

This is a case that should not have been allowed to reach as far as this Court.”

The justice dispensation machinery in India is plagued with backlogs and a significant factor in this backlog is the vast mass of frivolous litigation. The Bench stated,

“Curtailing such vexatious litigation is, thus, a crucial step towards a more effective justice system – a step that cannot be taken without the active involvement of the lower judiciary.”

In Subrata Roy Sahara v. Union of India, (2014) 8 SCC 470, the Supreme Court had stated,

“…One needs to keep in mind, that in the process of litigation, there is an innocent sufferer on the other side, of every irresponsible and senseless claim. He suffers long drawn anxious periods of nervousness and restlessness, whilst the litigation is pending, without any fault on his part. He pays for the litigation, from out of his savings (or out of his borrowings), worrying that the other side may trick him into defeat, for no fault of his. He spends invaluable time briefing counsel and preparing them for his claim. Time which he should have spent at work, or with his family, is lost, for no fault of his…”

Lastly, the Bench stated, the Magistrates are the first lines of defence for both the integrity of the criminal justice system, and the harassed and distraught litigant. And  a litigant pursuing frivolous and vexatious proceedings could not claim unlimited right upon court time and public money to achieve his ends.

Hence, the Bench quashed all litigations between the parties arising out of the complained incident by exercising its inherent powers under Article 142 of the Constitution.

[Krishna Lal Chawla v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 191, decided on 08-03-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

*Judgment by: Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar

Case BriefsHigh Courts

When youth of the country is gripped in the specter of unemployment, the arbitrary and whimsical stand of such kind of agency, like respondent 4, has compelled the unemployed persons in litigation which is avoidable if proper application of mind is genuinely made to the controversy” – A.C. Rao, J.

Gujarat High Court: A.C. Rao, J. while allowing the present petition has highlighted the mindset of Government agencies, to engage in vexatious litigation and not following the repeated orders of the Courts hence, overburdening the judicial system.

Petitioner who was a Graduate in Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry and was duly registered under the Gujarat Veterinary Council had applied for the post of Veterinary Officer in Gujarat Animal Husbandry Service which was conducted by State Public Service Commission(GPSC). It was the case of the petitioner that he belonged to the Scheduled Tribe category and was waitlisted at no. 1. still was denied the post, when eventually another candidate from the same category resigned within 1 yr of service. The petitioner submitted that according to the Resolutions provided by GPSC, whenever such kind of post fell vacant within one year on account of the eventualities mentioned, the post was to be filled in, from that particular category from which it had fallen vacant and resolution thus have full effect in case of the petitioner.

GPSC contended that resolution was essentially pertaining to Medical or Educational Department and therefore, cannot be utilized for other services. The respondent-State further contended that State had sent the recommendations to GPSC and it was the said authority that did not recommend the petitioner’s case. On the other hand, GPSC submitted that the representation of the petitioner was duly examined by the authority however, they found petitioner unfit since the candidate who had resigned had served for 1 year on the said post.

Advocate K.B. Pujara appearing for the petitioner vehemently contended that the stand taken by the respondent GPSC to discriminate against the petitioner and by deviating from applicable policy, the alleged stand was examined on several occasions by this Court, and the said stand was negated repeatedly.

Issue no 1. Whether the stand of the GPSC, which was reflected in the impugned communication, was just and proper?

The Court was not pleased by the stand of the GPSC and found that the reason for denial of appointment was per-se contrary to their policies. The policy was undisputedly applicable in the case of the petitioner. It was held that the stand of the respondent was unreasonable, arbitrary, capricious and not substantive in the eyes of law.

Issue no. 2.:  Whether the case of the petitioner was within the parameters of the policy of operating the waitlist ?

Court found that the stand of the petitioner has been examined by several Benches, the policy, undisputedly applies to the petitioner and it is the GPSC who has given a whimsical interpretation.

Hence, in the above-mentioned view, the petition was allowed.[Chirag Kishorbhai Joshi v. State of Gujarat, 2020 SCC OnLine Guj 2467, decided on 23-12-2020]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together