The Delhi High Court has refused to waive the costs of Rs. 50,000 which it had imposed on the officer of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat for wasting "judicial time of three courts" by filing frivolous appeals.
The Secretariat had to face the Court's ire in August this year for harassing an ex-employee for a paltry sum of Rs. 39,000 by pursuing litigation against him for over a decade.
Justice Valmiki J. Mehta had then imposed costs of Rs. 1 lakh, out of which Rs. 50,000 was directed to be paid to the former employee, Mr. P.S. Verma, and the remaining Rs. 50,000 was directed to be paid to Bharat Ke Veer by the person who advised the Secretariat to pursue and persist with the legal action.
An Application had now been filed by the Secretariat, on the basis of legal opinion given by the Attorney General of India, Mr. K.K. Venugopal, who had highlighted the difficulty in fixing responsibility among the officers. The AG had further submitted that the Secretariat had, in fact, taken legal advice from an Advocate before the Appeal was filed.
The Court, however, opined that responsibility can be fixed on the highest officer under whose signature the decision to file the second appeal was taken. It ruled,
"In my opinion the issue as addressed on behalf of the appellant, and also so opined by the Attorney General, can be resolved by this Court observing that the concerned officer who will be liable to pay costs in terms of the judgment dated 3.8.2017 will be the highest officer under whose signatures final decision was taken to file the second appeal.
After all an officer cannot say that he will not at all apply his mind and he can simply direct filing of an appeal just and merely because an Advocate has stated that the appeal should be filed, more so considering that the appeal was a Regular Second Appeal requiring existence of a substantial question of law under Section 100 CPC with the fact that the suit filed by the appellant/defendant was only for Rs.39,010/- and which suit was dismissed by both the courts below thereby showing that there was no merits in the same."
It further noted that beyond this, the Secretariat may proceed against its Advocate if it "feels that it has suffered because of its Advocate or Advocates not giving the correct legal opinion".