Having scorned at frivolous litigation for quite some time now, the Delhi High Court recently imposed “actual lawyer’s costs” to the tune of Rs. 2, 00,000 on the dishonest litigants.
“…it is high time that a dishonest litigant and dishonest litigation in this country is severely and harshly commented upon by imposing such costs,” Justice Valmiki J. Mehta observed, while relying on the Court’s powers under Volume V of the Punjab High Court Rules and Orders (as applicable to Delhi) Chapter VI Part I Rule 15.
The Court was hearing an Appeal challenging an order of the lower Court wherein the suit for possession was decreed in favor of the Respondent-landlords. The tenants had contested the suit on the ground that what was let out to them was not a plot of a land but constructed premises. They had, therefore, contended that their tenancy is protected under the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 and that the suit before the Civil Court will be barred by Section 50 of the Act.
The Court, however, called this a “frivolous argument” and opined that the tenants were in a “completely dishonest manner” contesting the suit since 1993.
“For 24 years, dishonest tenants such as the appellants/defendants have harassed and illegally prevented taking of possession by the respondents/plaintiffs of the suit premises… Obviously, this Court expects no differently from dishonest tenants who somehow or the other want to continue in possession of the tenanted premises after expiry of a lease deed and are using the delays of litigations for their benefit,” it further observed.
The Court then noted that the lower Courts had granted very nominal mesne profits by awarding 15% annual increase in the admitted rent of Rs.750/- and ordered, “Considering the facts of the present case where there is complete dishonesty of the appellants/defendants/tenants in illegally continuing in possession of the demised premises now for 24 years, and for which the respondents/plaintiffs/landlord has to be compensated suitably, this appeal is dismissed with costs of Rs.2, 00, 000/-.”