The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently imposed costs on a petitioner who moved the High Court and the subordinate courts repeatedly in several rounds of litigation for the same matter (Mrs. Vijay Lata v. Rajiv Arora).
Censuring the petitioner, the Bench of Justice Alka Sarin said,
“The facts of the case disclose how the criminal justice system is being clogged with unnecessary litigation and how the Courts are being burdened with cases which have already attained finality, even during trying times.”
Expressing its disapproval, the Court opined that the petitioner’s repeated attempts at litigation gave the impression that she was attempting to bench-hunt in the hopes of a favourable outcome.
Justice Sarin said,
“The Court cannot also but express its dismay at the manner in which the petitioner has repeatedly been filing petitions under Section 340 CrPC on the same cause which gives an impression that she is indulging in ‘bench hunting’ which has to be deprecated in the strongest possible words.”
After noting that the matter canvassed before the Bench had attained finality several times over, the Court directed the petitioner to pay costs of Rs 25,000 towards the Haryana Corona Relief Fund.
“Costs are being imposed since precious judicial time, during the Covid-19 Pandemic, has been wasted on an issue which already stands decided against the petitioner on four earlier occasions. Costs of Rs.25,000/- be deposited with the ‘Haryana Corona Relief Fund’.”
In the course of litigation challenging her termination from employment, the petitioner had sought sanction for criminal proceedings against her erstwhile employer, a University, for allegedly filing a false affidavit.
She had moved the High Court, civil courts, criminal courts, and even a Special Judge under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 challenging her dismissal and questioning the validity of the statement filed by the University during the litigation.
Dismissing her petition, the High Court quoted from the Supreme Court’s pronouncement in Dalip Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors wherein the Court had stated:
“In the last 40 years, a new creed of litigants has cropped up. Those who belong to this creed do not have any respect for truth. They shamelessly resort to falsehood and unethical means for achieving their goals. To meet the challenge posed by this new creed of litigants, the courts have, from time to time, evolved new rules and it is now well established that a litigant, who attempts to pollute the stream of justice or who touches the pure fountain of justice with tainted hands, is not entitled to any relief, interim or final.”
Noting that the petitioner cleverly reworded some portions of her petition, and essentially sought the same reliefs in each round of litigation, the Court lambasted her for wasting judicial time amid the pandemic and proceeded to impose costs.