Coming down heavily on a company for filing a “threatening petition” against a judicial officer, the Madras High Court has imposed costs of Rs.25,000 on it.

The sum should be paid to the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority within two weeks.

“This sort of threatening petitions against judicial officers at the instance of cunning litigants like the petitioner, if encouraged, will prove fatal to the entire justice delivery system besides injecting most unwanted fear element into the minds of judicial officers. By this, we do not mean to say that the judiciary claims and enjoys total immunity, but what we insist is that unscrupulous litigants like the petitioner in the case on hand should not be encouraged.”

A Division Bench of Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and M. Venugopal was dismissing a writ petition by Shree Mahabaleswara Auto Industries (P) Ltd., Bangalore, which alleged that the very process of appointment of St. Lizamma Augustine, as Judicial Member, Company Law Board (CLB) here, was faulty. The petitioner challenged the provisions governing the appointment of the board Members.

In its order, the Bench said that the petitioner was a litigant before the Judicial Member.

The company had alleged that the Member ought to have rejected the claim of S. Shridhar against it in a company petition. It had also alleged that the process of her appointment to the exalted position was faulty.

“The present litigation is the height of misuse of the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court under Art.226 of the Constitution. This case will show how the heat of personal enmity between the clients is being turned towards judicial officers by a clever and cunning litigant, thus indulging in threatening measures against the Judicial Officers,” Justice Elipe Dharma Rao, writing the Bench order, observed.

The court said the petitioner had quoted the qualifications prescribed for the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), which had not come into force.

It would have been a different case had the impugned rules or for that matter the appointment of the Member were challenged by a person interested, not being a litigant like the petitioner.

When the qualification rules pertaining to NCLT were not at all given effect to, more particularly since the petitioner, a litigant before the Judicial Member, had indulged in threatening measures like filing the petition, the Bench said there was no reason to entertain the writ petition.

To serve as an eye-opener for cunning litigants like the petitioner, the Bench said it was imposing costs.