"Litigant Cannot Play Hide & Seek"- J&K&L HC Holds That Suppression Of Material Facts Will Not Be Tolerated By Judiciary
A Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court Bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice Puneet Gupta has held that the distortion or manipulation of relevant facts, misleading the court by stating false facts or withholding true facts disentitle a party to invoke equitable jurisdiction under Article 226 of Constitution of India.
Counsel M A Qayoom and Counsel PS Ahmad appeared for the appellants, while Senior Advocate Jahangir Iqbal Ganai and Counsel Mansoor Ahmad appeared for the Respondents.
In this case, the appeals were filed against an order passed by the Writ Court, where the Writ Court had dismissed the appellant's writ petition, along with costs of Rs. 1,00,000/-, on the solitary ground of suppression of material facts and misleading the Court.
The High Court found that the facts that had not been disclosed by the appellant were vital and relevant facts. In that context, it was said that "These are vital and relevant facts, if not technically speaking material facts, pertaining to the subject matter of the writ petition which the writ petitioner ought to have narrated/ disclosed in his petition."
In the same context, the Court noted that if those facts had been pleaded in the writ petition, they could have completely turned the tables. In furtherance, it was said that "Had the Writ Court been apprised of the true facts, the Writ Court might not have even entertained the writ petition, for, apart from technical pleas that could have been raised by the writ petitioner, he had no material on record to substantiate his claim of ownership and possession qua the subject property. The writ petitioner presented before the Writ Court halfbaked truth and suppressed the material that was relevant to controversy raised in the writ petition. Not only the writ petitioner is guilty of suppression of material and relevant facts but has failed to disclose all the facts relating to the litigation qua the subject property and the orders passed therein at different stages".
The Court took the considered view that "this Court cannot lose sight of the fact that the writ petitioner has very cleverly pleaded the facts suitable for him and suppressed those which could have been used against him. Once the writ petitioner was referring to the civil litigation, it was incumbent upon him to give all the details of the suits filed and orders passed therein from time to time. The writ petitioner was under obligation to disclose all facts relating to the dispute that he had brought before the Writ Court by way of writ petition".
On assessing the impact and effect of suppression of relevant information from the Writ Court exercising equitable jurisdiction, the Court formulated the following principles:
(i) Jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is extraordinary, equitable and discretionary.
(ii) To invoke this extraordinary, discretionary and equitable jurisdiction, it is of utmost necessity that the petitioner approaching the Writ Court must come with clean hands and put forward all facts before the court without concealing or suppressing anything.
(iii) A litigant is bound to state all facts which are material or relevant to the litigation.
(iv) The litigant must candidly state all the facts before the court without reservation. He cannot be permitted to play “hide and seek” or to “pick and choose” the facts he likes to disclose and keep back or conceal other facts.
(v) Jugglery, manipulation, manoeuvring or misrepresentation has no place in equitable and prerogative jurisdiction.
(vi) Suppression of material facts, concealment of full details of litigation, present and past, between the parties qua subject matter of dispute, distortion or manipulation of relevant facts, misleading the court by stating false facts or withholding true facts disentitle a party to invoke equitable jurisdiction under Article 226 of Constitution of India.
Therefore, the High Court found the appeals without merit and substance and were dismissed. The Court advised the Counsel of the petitioner to remain careful in future and not entirely get into the shoes of the client, as he has an equally onerous duty towards the Court as he has towards his client.
Cause Title: Fayaz Ahmad Rather vs Union Territory of J&K and others