Hike In Cost Of Frivolous Litigation
We all are fully aware as to how frivolous litigation by people having vested interests is costing the nation very dearly. The gravity of the seriousness can be gauged from the fact that even the Supreme Court has been finally compelled to take note of it and has spelled out a massive hike in the cost imposed on frivolous litigation. This was considered to be absolutely necessary to ensure that those who dare to waste the precious time of courts already reeling under a huge load of pending cases pay dearly for it so that next time no one can eve dare to take the system for a free ride. We all are fully aware that more than three crore cases are pending in various courts and things are going from bad to worse as there has been a quantum leap in the number of frivolous litigations which is a cause of grave concern. Even the Supreme Court is deeply worried about this threatening menace which is adversely affecting our entire judicial system as a whole.
It is a matter of deep satisfaction that at least now the Supreme Court has chosen to take the bull by the horns and suggested a 3000 per cent massive increase imposed on a person indulging in frivolous and vexatious litigation, saying that unless it was hiked from Rs 3,000 to Rs 1 lakh, the system would be unable to rein in false and vexatious cases from being slapped on innocent people with the sole motive of defaming them and harassing them to the hilt and to be in the limelight for wrong reasons. It would be pertinent to mention here that a bench of Justice RV Raveendran and Justice AK Patnaik in a landmark judgment delivered in October but made available on November 1, 2011, said, “At present, the courts have virtually given up awarding any compensatory costs as award of such small sum of Rs 3,000 would not make much difference. We are of the view that the ceiling in regard to compensatory costs should be at least Rs 1,00,000.” It also referred to Section 35A of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) which postulates for compensatory costs in respect of false or vexatious claims or defence.
For the benefit of readersc, I would like to point out here that the maximum amount to be levied on a person indulging in false litigation was hiked in 1977 from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 and has been the same since then. Justice Raveendran who delivered the landmark judgment and has retired just recently minced no words in unambiguously voicing his deep displeasure at the cost on frivolous litigation remaining the same for more than 34 years. It is highly commendable that the Supreme Court has now come out strongly against frivolous litigation and hiked the cost for the same so that it may act as a potential deterrent in the future. It is widely being expected that this landmark judgment will act as a potential deterrent to curb this dreaded menace at least as far as individual litigants are concerned. One, however, strongly feels that the monetary plenty must be reviewed after some time and if it fails to have any impact, it must be further enhanced. The monetary penalty for organisations should be much more than what is imposed on individuals as obviously they have the wherewithal to pay much more. It is hoped that the requisite changes would be accorded its due place so that it deters potential habitual litigators from making a mockery of the entire system by not only tormenting an innocent person but also wasting the precious time of the court and taking the entire legal system for a ride which can never augur well for a democratic country like India.
By Sanjeev Sirohi