“No Court shall be prestige conscious as to disallow permission to withdraw a writ petition unless the hearing has advanced to a considerable stage consuming time.”
While setting aside a single bench order imposing exemplary costs for some defects in a writ petition, the Kerala High Court observed that no court shall be prestige conscious as to disallow permission to withdraw a writ petition unless the hearing has advanced to a considerable stage consuming time.
A Cooperative bank filed a writ petition before the high court. The single judge came to note that, in the writ petition, the bank was represented by its president and not its secretary and that too in the absence of any resolution. When the writ petition was sought to be withdrawn, the judge refused it and dismissed the writ petition by imposing exemplary costs of Rs 25,000 to be paid over to the Kerala State Legal Services Authority.
Terming this an ‘in terrorem verdict’, the president of the bank moved the division bench by filing a writ appeal. The division bench noted that the defect noted i.e., absence of a resolution empowering the president, can be cured even later by taking a decision and producing it in the writ petition during hearing.
The bench comprising Justice V. Chitambaresh and Justice R. Narayana Pisharadi said: “The President of the Bank was fair enough to seek permission to withdraw the case to enable a fresh writ petition to be filed without the defects that were pointed out. No Court shall be prestige conscious as to disallow permission to withdraw a writ petition unless the hearing has advanced to a considerable stage consuming time. The learned single Judge not only declined permission to withdraw but has also dismissed the writ petition with exemplary costs of `25,000/- as afore-stated. We cannot by any stretch of imagination state that the President of the Bank has indulged in a speculative and vexatious litigation and adventurism in the prayers sought.”
The court added that costs should not be imposed to create a corpus for the State Legal Services Authority. It also said that, in this case, president of the bank cannot be said to be guilty of misrepresentation, fraud or suppression of facts and that he has also not produced any forged and fabricated document.
The bench observed that it can at best be said that the writ petition was not properly framed. Allowing the writ appeal by setting aside the costs imposed, the court remarked: “It is only normal for the lawyers to stumble, falter and trip in their professional journey and they learn by their mistakes when good cases are lost in court. Diligence helps the lawyers to achieve near perfection by experience and accolade to their seniors in profession who lend a helping hand in the infancy of their career. We cannot altogether rule out the slip if any in the preparation of the writ petition and the imposition of exemplary costs `25,000/- in the case on hand seems to be unnecessary.”