January 02, 2017     

Delhi HC: Bug Me Not! Filing of Successive Writ Petitions on the same Grounds Can Invite a Penalty

 

 

In an iconic judgment passed on November 29, 2016 Justice Valmiki Mehta of the Delhi High Court, in the case of S. N Sahu v. Chairman, Rajyasabha and Others[1] directed the Petitioner to pay an amount of Rupees Three Lakhs for filing six recurrent writ petitions with similar facts and grounds. This order could be seen as a promising move by the judiciary to curb the menace of filing of writ petitions one after the other by one petitioner to facilitate a hearing for the earlier admitted petition.

 

Background in Brief  

  • Sri S. N Sahu, the Petitioner had filed six writ petitions under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. To the dismay of the Hon’ble Court, para 1 of the sixth petition filed against the Secretariat of Rajya Sabha stated that the five writ petitions (also filed against the Secretariat of Rajya Sabha) are pending but the same be treated as non-existent and nullity.

  • All the writ petitions revolved around the same issue with minor changes, seeking cancellation of the appointment of Sri Ramacharyulu and Sri Mukul Pande as Additional Secretaries of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat.

  • The sixth writ petition asked for the issuance of the writ of quo warranto, mandamus, and certiorari against Rajya Sabha Secretariat for appointing Sri Ramacharyulu and Sri Mukul Pande. The Petitioner prayed for the appointment of the abovementioned to be declared illegal, arbitrary, and perverse.

The Court Observed

  • The foremost issue raised by the court as against the Petitioner’s claim was regarding the maintainability of praying for the writ of quo warranto. The writ of quo warranto can be issued for violation of a statutory provision. Settled law emphasizes that the jurisdiction of High Court is limited to a situation wherein an appointment is contrary to the statutory Rules; in the present case no averments could be affirmed.

  • To claim certiorari the petitioner must plead Locus Standi. However, the present petition does not plead any Locus Standi of the petitioner for filing the petition. It must be understood that a person has Locus Standi only if the personal interest of the person concerned is affected. The petitioner would have had Locus if it concerned his own employment. However, a more plausible move for the Petitioner would have been filing of a PIL than a writ petition and since the writ petition that has been filed is not a PIL, it may not yield a suitable remedy. Therefore, the Petitioner’s claim for issuing the writ of certiorari could not be treated as maintainable.

  • The third claim of mandamus therefore would resultantly fail owing to it being related to the first two prayers.

  • Further, the point critically highlighted by the court was related to the Petitioner’s act of declaring the first five petitions filed by him as non-existent and null and void in his sixth petition. The court observed that there exists no law that allows writ petitions filed under constitutional jurisdiction to suddenly become invisible and void. If the petitioner does not wish to further pursue the petitions so filed by him earlier, he may be welcome to file an application for withdrawal of the same.

Decision

 

Therefore, the Delhi High Court dismissed the petition with an exemplary cost of Rupees Three Lakhs imposed on the petitioner understanding that the petitioner possesses enough resources for filing successive judicial proceedings in court.

 

Comment

 

It would be true to say that the High Courts are in charge of administration of justice in a state. It would also be true to hold that today the courts are jaded with sequential petitions and frivolous cases increasing the back log of cases and reducing the efficiency of courts in speedy administration of justice. Therefore, if a writ petition is brought on grounds and facts same as to an earlier petition it should not be entertained[2] and the present case at hand goes on to reaffirm that.

 

[1] W.P.(C) No. 11146/2016 & CM Nos. 43572-73/2016, Pronounced on December 5, 2017.

 

 [2] Piyare Lal Khanna v. the Financial Commissioner (AIR 1973 HP 50); Khacher Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others (AIR 1995 All 338).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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