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Devious Attempts At Vexatious Litigation Needs To Be Curbed: Delhi HC [Read Judgment]

Apoorva Mandhani
26 Jan 2017 3:32 PM GMT
Devious Attempts At Vexatious Litigation Needs To Be Curbed: Delhi HC [Read Judgment]
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The Delhi High Court on Thursday came down heavily on a man for keeping his 94 year old mother out of her own house, and imposed costs of Rs. 5.3 lakh on the son.

Dismissing the appeal as being “misconceived, malafide and mischievous and only a ploy to buy more time”, Justice Hima Kohli observed, “The appellant and several other litigants like him seem to be harbouring an impression that by engaging in prolonged litigation, they would not only manage to deprive the lawful owner of the right to enjoy her premises, the said litigation will also give them a handle to occupy the same for a song. It is high time that such devious attempts are curbed and clipped.”

The litigation war between the son, Mr. Harish Relan, and the mother, Ms. Kaushal Kumari Relan, had begun with the former filing a partition suit against his mother and his siblings in 2006.

The Court was now hearing an appeal against a judgment passed in May last year, wherein the Trial Court had ruled that the respondent mother was entitled to possession of the suit premises, on the basis of admissions made by the son. The impugned judgment was passed in a suit for eviction and possession filed by the mother.

The Court observed that merely because the appellant son, being a family member, was permitted to occupy the suit premises, the possession cannot be treated as adverse to his mother, who is the recorded owner.

It thereby observed, “In other words, to affirmatively assert adverse possession, the appellant/defendant should have at least pleaded in his written statement that after the title of the suit premises had been mutated in the government records in favour of his mother, he had asserted his own exclusive right, title and interest in the suit premises to her knowledge and that the respondent/plaintiff had acquiesced to such a hostile exercise of right and had allowed him to remain in continuous possession and enjoyment of the suit premises in an assertion of the said hostile title, during the entire statutory period of twelve years, as has been contemplated under Article 65 of the Limitation Act, without any let or hindrance.”

The Court further noted that the son was dragging the litigation only in the hope of it outliving his mother after which he would end up with the property anyway, the court said, “Justice is not blind and nor do the courts wear blinkers”.

It must be clarified that “blindfold” personifies impartiality and objectivity and it signifies that justice should be meted out without fear or favour, regardless of money, wealth, fame, power or identity… Courts are not influenced by the background, connections, status, power or authority of a claimant or a defendant. In exercise of the powers of reason and logic and while measuring the relative strength of the pleas taken by both sides, courts are constantly engaged with the effort of sifting the truth and cutting fact from fiction for arriving at a fair, just and equitous decision, unsullied by discrimination, partisanship and prejudice. When wielding the sword of justice, in deserving cases, courts are known to act with due compassion and compunction for the disadvantaged, underprivileged, deprived and the destitute,” Justice Kohli further explained.

Ruling in favor of the mother, the Court was of the view that it would be “failing in discharging its duty” if it did not impose costs on the petitioner, in order to fully restitute the respondent mother. In doing so, it observed, “It has been repeatedly emphasized in several judicial precedents that awarding realistic costs is to fully restitute the party that has been put to disadvantage on account of the litigation and to ensure that such costs act as a deterrent for unscrupulous litigants who cause prejudice, harassment and deprivation of the hapless opponents.”

Read the Judgment here.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.

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