Civil Proceedings Deliberately Prolonged

Such Abuse of Process of Court is Contempt of Court

The judicial system in our country takes decades and sometimes 3 generations to obtain the final orders. As per data available on the website of Supreme Court, 59,859 cases are pending in the Supreme Court of India as on 02.01.2020. And as per data available on the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) as on 29.01.2020, about 3.19 crore cases are pending in the District & Subordinate Courts. 

All these numbers indicate only one thing that we need revolution in the Judicial system to progress But unfortunately this is not possible if the parties continue to abuse the process of law to satisfy the malice intentions. 

Recently in the case of Debashish Sinha v. Sreejib Sinha, SLP No. 4148 of 2020 

The SC bench observed that, “This is a classic case of how civil proceedings can be prolonged ad infinitum, causing grave injustice to one of the parties. We are not satisfied with merely dismissing the special leave petition as some signal must be sent to discourage this nature of litigation,”

In this case Rabindra Nath Sinha, the original tenant was inducted as a lessee by the respondent under an agreement for 21 years in 1967. After expiry of the said period the respondent filed a suit for eviction against the original tenant which was decreed in favour of the respondent by the decree dated 17-08-2005. The original tenant challenged the judgment and decree passed by the Trial Court successively up to the Supreme Court. However, the appeals were dismissed on contest, affirming the decree of eviction. Further In 2009, the landlord had to again approach the court for getting the tenant evicted by filing execution proceedings.

At this stage, a third party came up, claiming himself to be a nephew of the original tenant and a partner in the business that was run by him with his uncle from the same property. Pleaded that since he was not a party to the proceedings earlier, the eviction order did not apply to him.

His attempt to contest the main order of eviction was repelled first by the executing court in September 2011 and subsequently by an appellant court in April 2016. He then approached the Calcutta high court, which also dismissed his plea in November 2019. All this while, the possession remained with the appellant. The HC observed that, “The present appellant is a ranked third party in respect of landlord-tenant relationship and he cannot claim independent tenancy on the basis of a partnership agreement executed by and between him and the original judgement-debtor”. Against the high court order, the then third party moved the Supreme Court, which condemned the tenant for dragging the dispute by filing cases after cases and opined that merely dismissing the petition would not suffice as some signal must be sent to discourage this nature of litigation. Therefore, while dismissing the SLP the Bench imposed the following directions:

1) The execution should be satisfied within a period of 15 days from this order being placed before the Trial Court.

2) Damages should be computed by the Executing Court at the market rates against the petitioner from the date of filing the objection i.e. 26-03-2010 till possession gets transferred.

3) For wastage of judicial time and for dragging on the proceedings, the petitioner should be burdened with costs of Rs. 1 lakh to be paid to the respondent within the period of three months.

In another similar case, Saraswati Kumad Singh vs Abdul Rehman Contempt No. 550 of 2020, the Supreme Court observed that “There is thus, undoubtedly a wilful and deliberate disobedience of the orders of the court and there is no doubt that the conduct of the respondents is contumacious.”

In DELHI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY Vs. SKIPPER CONSTRUCTION [1995 SCC (3) 507] 

The court observed that “ Abuse of the process of court calculated to hamper the due course of judicial proceeding or the orderly administration of justice is a contempt of court.”

Abuse of process of court is a matter of grave concern that the litigants dare to wilfully infringe the orders of the Supreme Court of the Country. Perhaps it is the leniency of the Courts or the scrimpy amount of fines and small duration of sentence. It is opportune time to revisit the proportionality of fine and the duration of imprisonment to be increased so that there is a forestallment to committing wilful contempt of the courts. 

Looking to the high costs of litigation, it is high time that admonitory costs are saddled for frivolous litigation and abuse of the process of law. This will help in unclogging of the Courts and put an end to abuse of the process of law.

 

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Rajesh Haldipur
Rajesh Haldipur

Founder, Law Gyani

Rajesh is a qualified CA & CWA. He has served as a Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, a Director of a large urban co-operative bank and Dean of a B-School over the years. He has taught Finance for over 20 years & trained participants from several Companies and B-Schools. He is an educator and a learner (he believes both are inextricably intertwined), and a knowledge product developer. Law Gyani, which he has founded to help Law Students with their exam preparations, and to understand nuances of the law.


Co-Author
Shraddha Saxena
Shraddha Saxena

Law Student, Legal Intern at Law Gyani

Shraddha is a law student and the founder of Vidhik Sahara. She usually writes on prominent socio-legal issues.


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