The Punjab and Haryana High Court last week restricted the practice of filing multiple writ petitions with regard to the same or similar cause of action.
Noting that "the dockets of the Courts are already over-flowing", Justice Anil Kshterpal opined that the filing of the multiple petitions is "neither in the interest of justice nor in the interest of the Judicial Institution".
The Single Bench expressed the view that "it results in wastage of valuable time of the Institution" to which "the Bar and the Bench are equal participants".
"This Institution has been set-up to make a sincere endeavour to give justice to all the litigants. For achieving that goal, it is necessary that unnecessary filing of any kind of petitions should be discouraged", the court said.
The Single Bench was hearing a petition filed by a workers' union against the State of Punjab and other respondents. "At the outset, it is significant to note that the writ petitioner has filed a previous Civil Writ Petition, which after notice of motion issued on 24.06.2020, is pending for 20.07.2020. The parties to the previous writ petition as well as the present writ petition are exactly the same", noted the Court.
"Question which this Court is called upon to answer is 'Whether multiple writ petitions with regard to same or similar cause of action between the same parties, should be permitted to be filed or not?'", reflected the bench.
Justice Kshetarpal observed that the High Court, for regulating the filing of writ petitions, has notified the writ jurisdiction (Punjab and Haryana) Rules, 1976. As per the format issued, in the Index of the petition, there is a requirement of disclosing whether there is any other similar case or not.
Further, the bench noted that Rule 32 of the 1976 Rules provides that In all matters for which no provision is made by these rules, the provisions of the Code
of Civil Procedure 1908, shall apply mutatis mutandis, in so far as they are not inconsistent with these rules.
The Single Judge appreciated that Order 2 Rule 2 of the CPC prescribes that while filing a petition or a suit, whole of the claim, which the plaintiff or the petitioner is entitled to make in respect of a cause of action, shall be required to be added failing which he shall not afterwards be entitled to sue in respect of the portions so omitted or relinquished.
Similarly, the bench observed that Explanation IV of Section 11 of the CPC, also provides that any matter which might and ought to have been made a ground of defence or attack in such former suit or petition under Article 226, shall be deemed to have been a matter directly or substantially in issue in such suit or proceedings.
"Order 2 Rule 2 of the CPC, is thus applicable particularly when in the 1976 Rules, there is no provision inconsistent with the provisions of Order 2 Rule 2 of the CPC", said the bench.
Noting that Section 141 of the CPC deals with the miscellaneous proceedings and the Explanation added thereto provides that the expression "proceedings" would not include any proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution, the Court, however, took the view that on account of the specific provision made in the 1976 Rules, the procedure prescribed in the CPC has been made applicable unless such provision is inconsistent with the 1976 Rules.
"The Hon'ble Supreme Court has also, on more than one occasion deprecated the practice of filing multiple writ petitions on same or similar cause of action", reflected the bench.
Justice Kshetarpal reiterated at the time of filing a writ petition, the petitioner is required to make a disclosure in the Index and the relevant para, if such or similar petition is pending before or decided by the Supreme Court or the High Court or any other court. The writ petitioner is also required to disclose the difference in the cause of action, if any, in both the writ petitions, if any. Still further, the writ petitioner shall disclose the reasons why the relief claimed in the subsequent petition could not be claimed or included in the previously instituted petition.
"These observations/guidelines are being issued because filing of the multiple writ petitions should be avoided", said the court.
In the instant case, the question "Whether this Court should entertain the second petition?" was answered in the negative by the Single Judge.
Keeping in view the fact that the present writ petition has been filed by the Workers' Union, the Court did not "wish to pass any harsh orders" and accordingly, disposed off the petition.
Click Here To Download Order