HC issues guidelines for controlling frivolous litigations

February 02, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 07:09 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Expressing concern over frivolous litigation and false claims “choking the judicial system”, the Delhi High Court has issued a set of guidelines to the lower courts for initiating prosecution under Section 209 of the Indian Penal Code in appropriate cases. The reluctance of courts to take action encourages litigants to make false averments, said the High Court.

Section 209 of the IPC provides for two years' imprisonment and fine for the offence of fraudulently or dishonestly making a false claim in the court with the intent to injure or annoy any person.

The Bench of Justice J.R. Midha said in a recent judgment that false claims in courts were a menace which delayed justice and compromised with the sanctity of the court of justice.

Since this practice puts a huge strain on the legal system, it should be ended with an “iron hand” or else every law breaker would violate the law with impunity, said the court.

In its 99-page verdict in the case of a landlord who had made a false claim against the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the Bench said the court would be failing in its duties if false claims were not dealt with in a manner proper and effective for maintenance of majesty of courts, as otherwise the courts would lose their efficacy to the litigating public.

The landlord, who had given his premises on rent to the NHAI, had issued an unconditional apology after the High Court sent him a notice for making the false claim. The showcause notice was discharged later after he paid the costs of Rs.50,000.

The court also observed that filing false claims in courts aimed at striking a blow at the rule of law and “no court can ignore such conduct.”

The Bench asked the lower courts to invoke Section 209 in appropriate cases to prevent the abuse of process of law, secure the ends of justice and keep the path of justice clear of obstructions. “The judicial system in the country is choked with false claims and such litigants are consuming the courts’ time for a wrong cause,” it observed.

Issuing the guidelines, the court asked the lower courts to issue showcause notice to litigants in the cases of false claims and give them a reasonable opportunity to reply.

If the facts are sufficient to return a finding that an offence appears to have been committed and it is expedient to proceed, the court need not order a preliminary inquiry. If the facts are not sufficient and there is suspicion, albeit a strong one, the court may order a preliminary inquiry, said the Bench.

For that purpose, the court can direct the State agency to investigate and file a report along with the evidence it has gathered. Once it prima facie appears that an offence under Section 209 has been made out, the court should not hesitate to make a complaint under the Criminal Procedure Code.

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