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A Plea Of Indigency Should Be Made With Utmost Bonafides, Omissions In Listing Property Should Be Explained: Kerala High Court

Lydia Suzanne Thomas
11 May 2021 6:34 AM GMT
A Plea Of Indigency Should Be Made With Utmost Bonafides, Omissions In Listing Property Should Be Explained: Kerala High Court
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The Kerala High Court has iterated the principle that a plaintiff who filed a suit as an indigent was to explain omissions in the properties listed. The Division Bench that pronounced the judgment underscored the necessity of utmost honesty and bonafides when presenting an indigency suit. The Court said, "The plea of indigency should be made with utmost honesty and bona fides...

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The Kerala High Court has iterated the principle that a plaintiff who filed a suit as an indigent was to explain omissions in the properties listed.

The Division Bench that pronounced the judgment underscored the necessity of utmost honesty and bonafides when presenting an indigency suit.

The Court said, "The plea of indigency should be made with utmost honesty and bona fides since approval of the same will have an impact on the exchequer as well as on the opposite party."

In this light, Justices A. Hariprasad and Ziyad Rahman A.A. iterated the principle that a plaintiff who filed a suit as an indigent was to disclose property possessed and if there were omissions, had to explain how the omission was bonafide, with reasons.

The appeal before the Court arose out of a trial court's rejection of an elderly woman's plea of indigency, seeking exemption from paying the court fees in a suit. Her suit challenged the execution of her husband's will, which she argued was riddled by fraud and misrepresentation.

The respondents, the woman's children, alleged that she was suppressing the fact that she was in possession of 1.56 acre dry land and gold ornaments worth Rs 5 lakh, along with a monthly income of Rs 25,000 earned from usufructs of the disputed properties.

Justices Hariprasad and Rahman pointed out that the woman, the appellant, had not disclosed reasons for the omissions. Her own pleadings revealed that the appellant did not disclose the true facts to establish her indigency, the Court stated, relying on Mathew v. State of Kerala.

Referring the relevant provisions of law, the Bench highlighted that under Order XXXIII Rule 1 Code of Civil Procedure 1908, a person did not have to be in abject poverty to qualify as indigent. Legal requirement under of the Code to consider a person indigent is that he should not be possessed of sufficient means (other than property exempt from attachment in execution of a decree and the subject matter of the suit) to pay the fee prescribed by law for the plaint in a suit that he proposes to file, it was stated.

"No civilized society could view indigency with disdain. Not only our law but our ancestors too were compassionate to indigent persons," the judges emphasised.

In light of the appellant's failure to personally testify or adduce any evidence before the court to establish that her omission was a bona fide, the Bench proceeded to dismiss the appeal.

CASE: Jagadamma v. Sheela and Anr.

COUNSEL: Advocates P.B. Krishnan, P.B. Subramanyan, Sabu George, B. Anusree, Manu Vyasan Peter for appellant, Advocates G.Sreekumar (Chelur, Thomas M.Jacob and V.V. Chacko for respondents.

Click here to download the judgment



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