28 Dec 2009

Lack of truth in litigation: Rues the Supreme Court

Noting the woeful misrepresentation of facts made by a party, a recent decision of the Supreme Court emphatically asserts the degeneration which has taken places in the masses in this land of Buddha and Mahavira in as much as truthful conduct is concerned. The Court rued the fact that the citizens have resorted to hide or misstate the truth before the Courts and declared that such parties are not entitled to any relief/sympathy from the Court as under 
1. For many centuries, Indian society cherished two basic values of life i.e., `Satya' (truth) and `Ahimsa' (non-violence). Mahavir, Gautam Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi guided the people to ingrain these values in their daily life. Truth constituted an integral part of justice delivery system which was in vogue in pre-independence era and the people used to feel proud to tell truth in the courts irrespective of the consequences. However, post-independence period has seen drastic changes in our value system. The materialism has over-shadowed the old ethos and the quest for personal gain has become so intense that those involved in litigation do not hesitate to take shelter of falsehood, misrepresentation and suppression of facts in the court proceedings. In 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. In order 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.
2. In Hari Narain v. Badri Das AIR 1963 SC 1558, this Court adverted to the aforesaid rule and revoked the leave granted to the appellant by making the following observations: "It is of utmost importance that in making material statements and setting forth grounds in applications for special leave made under Article 136 of the Constitution, care must be taken not to make any statements which are inaccurate, untrue and misleading. In dealing with applications for special leave, the Court naturally takes statements of fact and grounds of fact contained in the petitions at their face value and it would be unfair to betray the confidence of the Court by making statements which are untrue and misleading. Thus, if at the hearing of the appeal the Supreme Court is satisfied that the material statements made by the appellant in his application for special leave are inaccurate and misleading, and the respondent is entitled to contend that the appellant may have obtained special leave from the Supreme Court on the strength of what he characterizes as misrepresentations of facts contained in the petition for special leave, the Supreme Court may come to the conclusion that in such a case special leave granted to the appellant ought to be revoked."

3. In Welcome Hotel and others v. State of Andhra Pradesh and others etc. AIR 1983 SC 1015, the Court held that a party which has misled the Court in passing an order in its favour is not entitled to be heard on the merits of the case.

4. In G. Narayanaswamy Reddy and others v. Governor of Karnataka and another AIR 1991 SC 1726, the Court denied relief to the appellant who had concealed the fact that the award was not made by the Land Acquisition Officer within the time specified in Section 11-A of the Land Acquisition Act because of the stay order passed by the High Court. While dismissing the special leave petition, the Court observed: "Curiously enough, there is no reference in the Special Leave Petitions to any of the stay orders and we came to know about these orders only when the respondents appeared in response to the notice and filed their counter affidavit. In our view, the said interim orders have a direct bearing on the question raised and the nondisclosure of the same certainly amounts to suppression of material facts. On this ground alone, the Special Leave Petitions are liable to be rejected. It is well settled in law that the relief under Article 136 of the Constitution is discretionary and a petitioner who approaches this Court for such relief must come with frank and full disclosure of facts. If he fails to do so and suppresses material facts, his application is liable to be dismissed. We accordingly dismiss the Special Leave Petitions."

5. In S.P. Chengalvaraya Naidu (dead) by L.Rs. v. Jagannath (dead) by L.Rs. and others JT 1993 (6) SC 331, the Court held that where a preliminary decree was obtained by withholding an important document from the court, the party concerned deserves to be thrown out at any stage of the litigation.

6. In Prestige Lights Ltd. V. State Bank of India (2007) 8 SCC 449, it was held that in exercising power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India the High Court is not just a court of law, but is also a court of equity and a person who invokes the High Court's jurisdiction under article 226 of the Constitution is duty bound to place all the facts before the court without any reservation. If there is suppression of material facts or twisted facts have been placed before the High Court then it will be fully justified in refusing to entertain petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution. This Court referred to the judgment of Scrutton, L.J. in R v Kensington Income Tax Commissioners (1917) 1 K.B. 486, and observed: "In exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution, the High Court will always keep in mind the conduct of the party who is invoking such jurisdiction. If the applicant does not disclose full facts or suppresses relevant materials or is otherwise guilty of misleading the Court, then the Court may dismiss the action without adjudicating the matter on merits. The rule has been evolved in larger public interest to deter unscrupulous litigants from abusing the process of Court by deceiving it. The very basis of the writ jurisdiction rests in disclosure of true, complete and correct facts. If the material facts are not candidly stated or are suppressed or are distorted, the very functioning of the writ courts would become impossible."

7. In A.V. Papayya Sastry and others v. Government of A.P. and others, AIR 2007 SC 1546, the Court held that Article 136 does not confer a right of appeal on any party. It confers discretion on this Court to grant leave to appeal in appropriate cases. In other words, the Constitution has not made the Supreme Court a regular Court of Appeal or a Court of Error. This Court only intervenes where justice, equity and good conscience require such intervention.

8. In Sunil Poddar & Ors. v Union Bank of India (2008) 2 SCC 326, the Court held that while exercising discretionary and equitable jurisdiction under Article 136 of the Constitution, the facts and circumstances of the case should be seen in their entirety to find out if there is miscarriage of justice. If the appellant has not come forward with clean hands, has not candidly disclosed all the facts that he is aware of and he intends to delay the proceedings, then the Court will non-suit him on the ground of contumacious conduct.

9. In K.D. Sharma v. Steel Authority of India Ltd. And others (2008) 12 SCC 481, the court held that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 32 and of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is extraordinary, equitable and discretionary and it is imperative that the petitioner approaching the Writ Court must come with clean hands and put forward all the facts before the Court without concealing or suppressing anything and seek an appropriate relief. If there is no candid disclosure of relevant and material facts or the petitioner is guilty of misleading the Court, his petition may be dismissed at the threshold without considering the merits of the claim. The same rule was reiterated in G. Jayshree and others v. Bhagwandas S. Patel and others (2009) 3 SCC 141.
Have a look at the decision.

No comments: