New Delhi: While most courts in the country are in virtual mode amid this pandemic and physical hearings are a rarity and mostly urgent matters are being heard over video conferencing, one set of litigants are using this as an opportunity to manage relief by suppressing facts.
This has become possible, because the courts are sparsely manned – not all have been allowed to report for duty for safety reasons – and those present are unable to cross check all facts from their records.
Recently, the Himachal Pradesh High Court expressed its serious concern when it spotted two bail petitions in the same FIR by the same petitioner. Several incidents of manipulation of facts came to light from districts courts and other high courts, but none could believe that the same fate would befall the Supreme Court.
One came across a case of land disputes, in the case: “Calcutta Landing And Shipping Company Limited Vs Late Manbasa Devi through Legal Representatives (LR’s)”. In this case the legal heirs challenged a December 3, 2019 order of a single judge-bench of the Calcutta High Court, wherein Calcutta Landing And Shipping Company Limited filed a caveat, making the LRs of Manbasa Devi party, and that caveat was registered in the Supreme Court on December 24, 2019.
Interestingly Calcutta High Court by an order dated 01.03.2019 allowed the substitution of legal heirs of Manbasa Devi and that order was challenged by Calcutta Landing And Shipping Company Limited in Supreme Court by way of SLP (Civil) No.12905/2019 and the said SLP was dismissed.
When the virtual courts started functioning in the Supreme Court, the Calcutta Landing And Shipping Company Limited, knowingly, challenged the said order dated 3rd December 2019 of the single judge, though it was in their favour, without disclosing that Manbasa Devi had died and that their Legal Representatives were contesting this case. The idea was to make the petition of the LRs of Manbasa Devi, that is likely to be heard, infructuous.
The Calcutta Landing And Shipping Company Limited, by suppressing the above facts, managed the order from the Supreme Court. It is as follows:
“We are not inclined to interfere with the impugned order passed by the High Court. More so, in view of the fact that the time limit of six months is given by the court to decide the case. Let the court decide the same within the specified period and a report be sent to this Court. The Special Leave Petition is, accordingly, dismissed. Pending interlocutory application(s), if any, is/are disposed of.”
The above order makes it clear how litigants are managing court orders by suppressing material facts.
Order attached here;Order_29-May-2020
-India Legal Bureau