Delhi HC Comes Down Heavily On Litigant For Filing Second "First Appeal" On Technicalities; Gets Slapped With Costs [Read Judgment]

Delhi HC Comes Down Heavily On Litigant For Filing Second "First Appeal" On Technicalities; Gets Slapped With Costs [Read Judgment]

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on a litigant and his lawyers for abusing the process of law by filing a second "first appeal" in a case, citing technical differences.

Justice Valmiki J. Mehta in fact imposed costs of Rs. 1 lakh on the appellant and also referred the matter to the Bar Council of Delhi for initiating action against his lawyers.
The court had been approached by one Suresh Kumar, who had filed an appeal challenging a judgment passed by the trial court in August last year, whereby two cross suits in a property dispute were disposed of.
He had previously filed an appeal challenging this verdict. He, however, later withdrew the judgment and now claimed that the first appeal was only to the extent of one of the cross suits pertaining to the declaration and injunction as regards claiming ownership of the suit property.
The court, however, noted that while the first appeal did not specifically challenge the judgment in the other cross suit, the issues in both the cross suits were common and identical. They pertained to the ownership of the flat premises, of which the respondents alleged that the petitioner had taken illegal possession of.
Explaining the similarity in issues raised in the cross suits, the court observed,
"Putting it in other words, the defence of the appellant in the suit filed by the respondents being Suit No. 446/2017 was the cause of action in the suit filed by the appellant in his Suit No. 445/2017 being the claim of the present appellant Sh. Suresh Kumar to ownership of the suit flat on account of having provided labour contractor services for construction of the entire property in which one flat was the suit flat/property."
The court then noted that the first appeal was disposed of after the petitioner sought time to vacate the premises. After this plea was granted, the petitioner now approached the court with another appeal, through different set of advocates, essentially claiming that the first appeal did not challenge the same judgment.
The court, however, opined that this was a fit case for sending the judgment to the Bar Council of Delhi as well as for directing initiation of criminal proceedings against the appellant. This was because the court asserted that its judgment in the first appeal operates as res judicata against the appellant and that he could not have filed this appeal, raising identical issues.
It observed,
"It is an abuse of the process of law that an issue which is heard and finally decided is sought to be re-agitated on technical grounds, inasmuch as, by not pressing of earlier RFA No. 884/2018 the issue with respect to ownership of the suit flat vesting in the respondents achieved finality with the consequential effect of appellant not being the owner of the suit property."
The court further noted that the appellant had sought time to vacate the premises, with the undertaking sought on the basis that he had no right in the suit property.
The appeal was, therefore, dismissed with costs of Rs. 1 lakh imposed on the appellant, to be paid to the website www.bharatkeveer.gov.in. The court further directed a copy of the judgment to be sent to the Bar Council of Delhi, ordering it to treat the verdict as a complaint against the advocates who represented the appellant.
It ordered, "I also find the present to be a fit case where copy of this judgment be sent to the Bar Council of Delhi treating the present judgment as complaint against the present Advocates who are present in person today, and who have argued this appeal that such Advocates who abuse the process of law ought to be proceeded against accordingly by the statutory body being the Bar Council of Delhi…"
The direction pertaining to the costs of Rs. 1 lakh and the complaint were, however, dispensed with, after the appellant prayed to withdraw the suit. The costs were reduced to Rs. 25,000.
Read the Judgment Here