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"Greed, Acrimony & Deceit": Bombay HC Dismisses Contempt Plea Of Man Who Prima Facie Played Fraud On Supreme Court & High Court For Property

Sharmeen Hakim
22 March 2022 5:15 AM GMT
Greed, Acrimony & Deceit: Bombay HC Dismisses Contempt Plea Of Man Who Prima Facie Played Fraud On Supreme Court & High Court For Property
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Observing that "greed, acrimony and deceit" are clear from the son's conduct, the Bombay High Court dismissed the contempt petition he filed against his parents in connection with a property dispute and directed him pay them cost of Rs. 50,000. The petitioner son -Manoj Kumar Dalmia- alleged non-compliance of consent terms he allegedly signed with his parents, giving him more than...

Observing that "greed, acrimony and deceit" are clear from the son's conduct, the Bombay High Court dismissed the contempt petition he filed against his parents in connection with a property dispute and directed him pay them cost of Rs. 50,000.

The petitioner son -Manoj Kumar Dalmia- alleged non-compliance of consent terms he allegedly signed with his parents, giving him more than his share in the couple's Santacruz flat, while also permitting his family to reside there. He would also get their second flat, which was their only source of livelihood.

The parents said their signatures were forged and the High Court order accepting the terms was passed in their absence.

"There was no reason whatsoever for Respondent Nos. 2 and 3 (parents) to ordinarily enter into the Consent Terms which basically seek to undo what they had been able to preserve thus far, by securing orders from this Court and the Supreme Court," a division bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and Milind Jadhav noted about the "lopsided" terms.

Calling the son's behaviour "reprehensible," the bench said, "Prima facie, the consent terms and the order (High Court order accepting the terms) appear to be obtained by fraud or collusion."

The court noted that the parents had already filed an FIR against the son and Advocate MS Hadi, alleging cheating, criminal breach of trust, forgery etc. Hadi had appeared for them in the proceedings in which the consent terms were singed.

Facts of the Case

This is an extremely unfortunate situation where the parties viz. the son on the one hand, and the parents on the other, have been litigating for over 22 years. Greed, acrimony and deceit are writ large on the conduct of the son, Justice Kathawalla observed.

In 1999 disputes arose in the family and various proceedings were filed. In 2007 an arbitrator directed the couple to pay their son Rs 37,93,828 – his share in their Santacruz residence after he vacated the flat. The son appealed against the order but refused to leave.

Fraud on Supreme Court

Finally, in 2014 the Supreme Court directed the son to bring the flat's keys to court so that it could be handed over to the parents. The wrong keys were handed over, and the son's family continued to reside in it, constraining the parents to re-approach the High Court.

"This may be the only matter of the kind where a party appearing before the Supreme Court played a fraud on the Supreme Court," the High Court had observed in April 2015 directing the police to ensure son and his family handed over peaceful possession of the flat.

Meanwhile the son claimed that he executed consent terms with his parents in October 2015, through which he got most of what he was seeking since 1999. He initiated the present contempt proceedings against his parents for non-compliance of the consent terms.

The parents alleged that Hadi obtained signatures on various blank documents from them on some pretext or the other and in connivance with their son withdrew over Rs. 51,85,636.68. Hadi represented the parents in the 2012 proceedings in which the consent terms were crystalised through an order.

Justice Kathawalla's bench appointed Advocate Rashmin Khandekar as Amicus Curiae. He submitted that that a judgment, order or decree obtained by playing fraud on the Court is a nullity and non-est in the eyes of law.

The court also secured the presence of Advocate Hadi and one Advocate Deepak Gautam. Hadi admitted receiving money from the son, but added that the amount was from the parents. "Suffice it to state that it is not in ordinary course that the lawyer appointed by one side receives lacs of rupees from the other side," the bench observed.

The bench then held the consent terms to be prima facie obtained by fraud on the following grounds:

1. Couple was not present when the High Court took the Consent Terms on record.

2. Consent Terms are simpliciter taken on record. It appears that the Division Bench of this Court was hoodwinked and did not apply its mind to the merits of this dispute.

3. Consent Terms appear to be ex facie unconscionable.

4. Parents have filed an FIR against the Advocate and Son.

5. Son's conduct throughout the dispute.

The court then went on dismiss the contempt petition granting the parents liberty to file separate proceedings and challenge the correctness of the Consent Terms. It also directed the son to pay costs of Rs.50,000.

Case Title: Manojkumar Omprakash Dalmia vs Omprakash Dalmia and Others

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Bom) 92

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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