Sending a clear warning to the “rich and powerful” who don’t hesitate to initiate multiple litigations and challenge each and every interim order of high courts and lower courts, particularly in corporate battles, Supreme Court on Tuesday said such people, abusing precious judicial time, must be punished and made to pay a heavy price for it.
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Abhay Manohar Sapre slapped exemplary fine of Rs 25 lakh each on German company Griesham Gmbh (MGG), Indian firm Goyal Gases Ltd (GGL) and a business family for abusing judicial process in their 18-year-old corporate battle in which they filed multiple petitions in Delhi and Bombay high courts and also in the Supreme Court.
“This case should also serve as proof of the abuse of the discretionary jurisdiction of this court under Article 136 by the rich and powerful in the name of fight for justice at each and every interlocutory step of a suit. Enormous amount of judicial time of this court and two high courts was spent on this litigation. Most of it was avoidable and could have been well spent on more deserving cases,” the bench said.
The bench noted that the litigations were going on since 1998 on the issue of share transfer and court proceedings were not progressing as issues had not been framed in four suits filed by them as they were not interested in bringing the dispute to an end.
The bench, which heard the case for 18 days, slammed the conduct of the parties for protracting the litigation and abusing the court proceedings by filing appeal out of various interlocutory proceedings.
“This case, in our view, is a classic example of the abuse of the judicial process by unscrupulous litigants with money power, all in the name of legal rights by resorting to half truths, misleading representations and suppression of facts. Each and every party is guilty of one or the other of the above-mentioned misconduct. It can be demonstrated but we do not wish to waste any more time in these matters,” it said.
“The net effect of all the litigation is this. For the last 18 years, the litigation is going on. Considerable judicial time of this country is spent on this litigation. The conduct of none of the parties to this litigation is wholesome. The instant SLPs arise out of various interlocutory proceedings. Arguments were advanced on either side for a period of about 18 working days as if this court were a court of original jurisdiction trying the various above-mentioned suits,” it said.
The court said the three parties would deposit Rs 25 lakh each to National Legal Services Authority as “compensation for the loss of judicial time of the country and the amount would be utilized by NALSA to fund poor litigants to pursue their claims before this court in deserving cases”.