War on pendency: SC begins to insist on pre-hearing deposits from corporates
“Litigation should become expensive for your big clients. The learned Attorney General had suggested it to us yesterday as one of the step which can be adopted to reduce pendency and discourage litigation. This is a beginning. Only those big clients who can pay deposit shall file cases here”, CJI T S Thakur to senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
A day after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi recommended imposition of heavy pre-hearing deposit on big corporate as one of the measure to discourage them from filing frivolous and avoidable cases in the Supreme Court adding to the huge pendency, the Chief Justice T S Thakur led bench implemented it in a case today.
The parties in the case involved Star India Pvt Ltd, Idea cellular and BCCI and the matter involved dissemination of information on cricket matches
The bench directed the petitioner to deposit Rs 50 lakh and all the respondents together to deposit the same amount within four weeks. The CJI told them only after the payment would the hearing in the case commence.
“Litigation should become expensive for big clients. The learned Attorney General had suggested it to us yesterday as one of the step which can be adopted to reduce pendency and discourage litigation”, CJI told senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi who was representing one of the parties
“How much you are willing to deposit? Ideally it should be 10 times the fees charged by you (Senior Advocates) for one hearing… it should be 1 crore since i think you all take 10 lakh per hearing.”. CJI Thakur told the lawyers. The deposit amount will be refunded after the case is disposed off.
Singvi told the Chief Justice that if the bench was starting new rules, it should not be retrospective and should be prospective .."It should not be in old matters which are pending but new ones going to be filed", Singhvi said
But the CJI shot back" "No it will be applicable for all pending matters also not just new"
During the hearing on the National Courts of Appeal, Attorney General had said instead of such courts, what was required was strengthening of High Courts to ensure that minimum appeals land in SC, the apex court itself adopting restrain in admitting appeals, use of latest technology by the apex court and imposing heavy costs on those filing frivolous petitions and wasting the court’s time and also heavy pre-hearing deposit on big corporate who “leap frog over poor litigants and waste precious judicial time on mundane business matters”.
Rohatgi asked why the apex court allowed big corporates to jump the queue and then spent months hearing their corporate cases at the cost of the ordinary litigant who has been waiting for years.