New Delhi, March 8 : The Supreme Court said on Monday that trial courts have the power and also the duty to nip frivolous litigations in the bud even before they reach the stage of trial by discharging the accused in fit cases.
In a 25-page verdict, a bench comprising Justices Mohan M. Shantanagoudar and R. Subhash Reddy said: “Frivolous litigation should not become the order of the day in India. From misusing the public interest litigation (PIL) jurisdiction of the Indian courts to abusing the criminal procedure for harassing their adversaries, the justice delivery system should not be used as a tool to fulfil personal vendetta.”
The top court said the trial courts and the magistrates have an important role in curbing injustice, as they are the first line of defence for both the integrity of the criminal justice system and the harassed and distraught litigant.
The top court quashed all the cases emerging from the physical altercation between neighbours in Meerut district in 2012. The incident triggered prolonged proceedings initiated by the neighbours against each other. A magistrate initiated the process on a private complaint by one of the parties after he remained unsatisfied with the police chargesheet. The sessions court further invoked harsher charges to improve the case of the complainant.
The bench noted that a falsely accused person not only suffers monetary damages, but also gets exposed to disrepute in the society.
“While running from pillar to post to find a lawyer to represent his case and arranging finances to defend himself before the court of law, he loses a part of himself,” observed the top court.
Emphasising that petty incidents shouldn’t be dragged to the top court, the bench said: “It is a settled canon of law that this court has inherent powers to prevent the abuse of its own processes, that this court shall not suffer a litigant utilizing the institution of justice for unjust means.”
The bench observed that a litigant pursuing frivolous and vexatious proceedings cannot claim unlimited right upon court time and public money to achieve his ends.
“It was incumbent on the magistrate to examine any possibility of abuse of process of the court, make further enquiries, and dismiss the frivolous complaint at the outset after judicial application of mind,” added the bench.
The top court said the trial judges have as much, if not more, responsibility in safeguarding the fundamental rights of the citizens of India as the highest court of this land.
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