Friday, January 4, 2008

Dismiss worthless cases: SC

Dismiss worthless cases: Supreme Court

By Our Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI, MARCH 25 . The Supreme Court has held that worthless cases can be summarily dismissed. The appellate court, including the High Court, do have the power to dismiss an appeal if they are convinced that the appeal is worthless, raising no arguable question of fact or of law, as it would be a sheer wastage of time and money.

A Bench of the Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justice G.P. Mathur gave this ruling while deciding the question whether the court could dispose of an appeal at the initial stage itself or the appeal should be disposed of after hearing the other side.

The Bench pointed out that the volume of work had gradually increased. This had resulted in adding to the arrears of cases in courts.

Writing the judgment, the Chief Justice said: "At times, the court has been criticised for being too liberal in entertaining cases and adding to the pendency of dockets before it.

It is, therefore, all the more necessary that worthless cases, wholly devoid of any merit, ought to be checked at the entry point itself."

Referring to the contention that an appeal should be heard irrespective of its merit, the Bench said: "Litigation is a costly affair." It said that in an appeal, if there was no arguable question, either of fact or law, was involved, it failed to understand how the appellant could still urge that the other side should be heard.

However, by way of caution, the Bench said the first appellate court exercising the power to dismiss the appeals summarily ought to pass a speaking order making it precise that it did go into the pleas — of fact and/or law — sought to be urged before it and upon deliberating upon them found them to be devoid of any merit or substance and giving brief reasons.

This, the Bench said, was necessary to satisfy any superior jurisdiction to whom the aggrieved appellant might approach that the power to summarily dismiss the appeal was exercised judicially and consciously by way of an exception.

Quoting a judgment of Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, the Bench said that where the grounds taken at their face value were frivolous, vexatious, malicious, wholly dilatory or blatantly mendacious, the prolongation of an appeal was a premium on abuse of the process of court.

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THE HINDU

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