8 July 2024

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When crying wolf 218 times is one too many

Naresh Kumar Sehgal v. Union of India and Ors .



The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently passed a judgment calling a Petitioner's suit (with a further 20 listed for the month of August, 2015) frivolous. The Petitioner, posing as a press reporter to level allegations against officials in the government, had commenced 218 petitions before the High Court since 2003. Taking account of the multitude of vexatious litigation, untruthfulness of the Petitioner and wasted judicial time, the Court directed the registry to not entertain petitions filed by the Petitioner of the kind levelling “wild allegations” against people and seeking security for himself. It imposed costs of Rs. 2 lakh, the recovery of which it urged, if need be, by “coercive process”.

Vexatious litigation in all courts


Vexatious litigants and frivolous litigation are reserved a unique place in the law. Legal procedures around the world acknowledge the existence of habitual litigators by incorporating provisions to bar them from wasting court time. For instance, Courts in the United Kingdom and United States of America can require undertakings and leave of court before filing a claim, and even strike out part (or whole) of the claim. What's more, the European Court of Human Rights found that curbing frequent and vexatious litigators did not contravene their human rights. In India, by contrast, compensation post litigation, and limited to a small amount, maybe serves to embolden than deter vexatious litigation. In the instant case, the Court's pursuit to rehabilitate “one who seeks a halo of a persecuted man”, may prove only so fruitful, with it opting for a limited refrain from filing litigation. On the other hand, Madhya Pradesh's recently passed Vexatious Litigation (Prevention) Bill, 2015, allowing courts to declare a person a 'vexatious litigant', should provide revelations. Though, perhaps, it could have been introduced at a more opportune moment.

Tags : vexatious frivolous litigation compensation

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