IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 57 OF 2014
Subrata Roy Sahara .... Petitioner
Union of India and others .... Respondents
J U D G M E N T
Jagdish Singh Khehar, J
“……………19. (In) K. A. Ansari vs Indian Airlines (2009) 2 SCC 164 (this Court) observed thus, “The Respondent Indian Airlines was obliged to obey and implement the…..direction. If they had any doubt or if the order was not clear, it was always open to them to approach the court for clarification…….Difficulty in implementation of an order passed by the Court, howsoever grave its effect may be, is no answer for its non-compliance………
150. The Indian judicial system is grossly afflicted, with frivolous litigation. Ways and means need to be evolved, to deter litigants from their compulsive obsession, towards senseless and ill-considered claims. 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. Should a litigant not be compensated for, what he has lost, for no fault? The suggestion to the legislature is, that a litigant who has succeeded, must be compensated by the one, who has lost. The suggestion to the legislature is to formulate a mechanism, that anyone who initiates and continues a litigation senselessly, pays for the same. It is suggested that the legislature should consider the introduction of a “Code of Compulsory Costs.”
151. We should not be taken to have suggested, that the cost of litigation should be enhanced. It is not our suggestion, that Court fee or other litigation related costs, should be raised. Access to justice and related costs, should be as free and as low, as possible. What is sought to be redressed is a habituation, to press illegitimate claims. This practice and pattern is so rampant, that in most cases, disputes which ought to have been settled in no time at all, before the first Court of incidence, are prolonged endlessly, for years and years, and from Court to Court, upto the highest Court.
152. This abuse of the judicial process is not limited to any particular class of litigants. The State and its agencies litigate endlessly upto the highest Court, just because of the lack of responsibility, to take decisions. So much so, that we have started to entertain the impression, that all administrative and executive decision making, are being left to Courts, just for that reason. In private litigation as well, the concerned litigant would continue to approach the higher Court, despite the fact that he had lost in every Court hitherto before. The effort is not to discourage a litigant, in whose perception, his cause is fair and legitimate. The effort is only to introduce consequences, if the litigant’s perception was incorrect, and if his cause is found to be, not fair and legitimate, he must pay for the same. In the present setting of the adjudicatory process, a litigant, no matter how irresponsible he is, suffers no consequences. Every litigant, therefore, likes to take a chance, even when counsel’s advice is otherwise.
153. Does the concerned litigant realize, that the litigant on the other side has had to defend himself, from Court to Court, and has had to incur expenses towards such defence? And there are some litigants who continue to pursue senseless and ill-considered claims, to somehow or the other, defeat the process of law. The present case, is a classic illustration of what we wish to express. Herein the regulating authority has had to suffer litigation from Court to Court, incurring public expense in its defence, against frivolous litigation. Every order was consistently and systematically disobeyed. Every order passed by the SEBI was assailed before the next higher authority, and then before this Court. Even though High Courts have no jurisdiction, in respect of issues regulated by the SEBI Act, some matters were taken to the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad (before its Lucknow Bench). Every such endeavour resulted in failure, and was also sometimes, accompanied with strictures. Even after the matter had concluded, after the controversy had attained finality, the judicial process is still being abused, for close to two years. A conscious effort on the part of the legislature in this behalf, would serve several purposes. It would, besides everything else, reduce frivolous litigation. When the litigating party understands, that it would have to compensate the party which succeeds, unnecessary litigation will be substantially reduced. At the end of the day, Court time lost is a direct loss to the nation. It is about time, that the legislature should evolve ways and means to curtail this unmindful activity. We are sure, that an eventual determination, one way or the other, would be in the best interest of this country, as also, its countrymen.
(Jagdish Singh Khehar)
May 6, 2014.
From the website of the Hon'ble Supreme Court