20 July 2023 11:50 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has said that the Bar Council of India must frame guidelines for establishing an “ethical code” for “self represented litigants” to save precious judicial time and minimize frivolous litigations. Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma added that the ethical grounding will play a crucial role in minimising the flow of frivolous litigation and will reduce the burden...
The Delhi High Court has said that the Bar Council of India must frame guidelines for establishing an “ethical code” for “self represented litigants” to save precious judicial time and minimize frivolous litigations.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma added that the ethical grounding will play a crucial role in minimising the flow of frivolous litigation and will reduce the burden of courts.
“This embargo of absence of ethical conduct needs to be addressed by the Bar Council of India, and some guidelines for establishment of ethical code for self-represented litigants need to be framed. This ethical grounding will play a crucial role in minimising the flow of frivolous litigation, and thus reduce the burden of Courts,” the court said.
Observing that while the self-represented litigants may lack legal training, the court said that they are still expected to fulfil certain duties to ensure a fair and efficient judicial process.
“They have a duty to critically assess the merits of their claims and consider whether there is a reasonable legal basis for their case. Since frivolous litigation burdens the Court system, wastes judicial resources, and hinders the administration of justice, it is the responsibility of the self-represented litigants to ensure that their case has a genuine legal basis, supported by relevant facts and legal principles,” the court said.
Justice Sharma made the observations while dismissing three petitions moved by one Naresh Sharma, an alumni of IIT, alleging that his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India was being infringed. He argued that Article 21 includes "right to have public organisations that are not criminally established‟.
It was his case that hundreds of Government organisations, including top institutions like IIT, AIIMS and IIMs, are criminal “in the extreme sense of sedition” because they are Societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and there is a “legal option” for such organisations to disobey the Government and even join forces against the Government.
Observing that it is the right time for taking action against frivolous litigants, the court dismissed the pleas with costs of Rs. 30,000 each to be deposited with Delhi High Court Bar Association Lawyers’ Social Security & Welfare Fund, its Employees Welfare Fund, and Civil & Session Courts Stenographers Association.
“In these circumstances, this Court sincerely hopes that the Bar Council of India will readily and positively come forward to help the Bench, spend more judicial time on adjudicating meritorious disputes speedily and efficiently, than being bothered and overburdened with flagrant misuse of magnanimity of the courts of law while dealing with malicious, vexatious and frivolous litigations,” the court said.
It added: “Our country itself has been degraded; the judicial education institutes that have found their place in the first hundred in the world have been maligned. This Court cannot tolerate such abuse of the process of law. This Court believes that mere reprimand is not an acceptable sanction in the facts of the present case.”
The court also said that it is time to recognize that the real price of the abuse of the process of law by frivolous litigations is paid by litigants who have meritorious claims.
“While this Court is sensitive that the doors of the Courts are open to every citizen who seeks redressal in good faith, the Courts cannot suffer in silence, the unending filing of baseless claims unsupported by any document against every possible past and present, Government and Private authority of our country, every public institute, the leaders who have passed away including the freedom fighters and past and present Supreme Court Judges. This Court does not deem it appropriate that the Government and other authorities should even be burdened with the task of defending the petition or this Court being troubled for adjudicating the frivolous petition,” the court said.
Justice Sharma also said that while the courts are trying to "do their best by reforming and modernising access to justice", it is time to also explore ways of dealing with frivolous litigation-related issues and find appropriate responses through new policies "while the law reforms are taking place in our country."
"Frivolous litigation should also be one of the focal points in the journey of judicial reforms as it will go a long way in achieving the major goal of ensuring a speedy and effective justice system," the court said.
The court further said the general public may just get glimpses of the data of a large number of pendency of cases before the Courts and, at times, may express their anguish about such pendency. "But the phenomenon of litigation explosion, which includes the large number of frivolous and vexatious litigation, may not come to the notice in the public domain," it added.
Title: NARESH SHARMA v. UNION OF INDIA & ORS.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 611
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