No Litigant Should Be Allowed To Misuse Process Of Law By Filing Multiple Appeals After First Was Dismissed For Lack Of Prosecution: SC
The Supreme Court has observed that no litigant should be allowed to misuse the process of law by repeatedly filing appeals, after the first appeal was dismissed for want of prosecution, without specific permission of the Court to seek a review of the judgment.
The Court dismissed a Civil Appeal and noted that the High Court had committed gross error in allowing such vexatious applications without assigning any reason.
“From the afore-stated state of affairs, it clearly emerges that though this Court had not granted any specific permission to file any application seeking review of the judgment and decree passed in Second Appeal No. 84 of 1997 in the SLP(Civil) No. 1373 of 2013, after a period of more than three years, the respondents had preferred the MCA No. 01 of 2016 seeking review of the said judgment in Second Appeal. The said MCA No. 01 of 2016 having been dismissed for want of prosecution, the respondents kept on filing one after the other Miscellaneous Civil Applications i.e., 02 of 2016, 01 of 2017, 01 of 2018 and 01 of 2019. All these applications were dismissed for want of prosecution. Under the circumstances, there was no question of allowing the MCA No. 03 of 2019 seeking restoration of MCA No. 01 of 2019. The High Court without assigning any reason whatsoever and in very casual manner has allowed the said application i.e., MCA (for restoration) No. 03 of 2019 in MCA (for restoration) No. 01 of 2019. No litigant should be permitted to be so lethargic and apathetic much less should be permitted to misuse the process of law, as the respondents have sought to do. The High Court had committed gross error in allowing such vexatious applications and that too without assigning any reason”, the Bench comprising Justice Bela M. Trivedi and Justice Dipankar Datta observed.
Senior Advocate I.H Syed appeared for the Appellant, and Advocate Ankit Acharya appeared for the Respondents.
Respondent No. 1, was hired by the Appellant/Trust as a watchman to oversee the hospital and was provided with a room to reside in. However, the Appellant/trust terminated Respondent No. 1's employment due to his involvement in illegal activities. In response, Respondent No. 1 filed a legal suit seeking a declaration that he owned the premises and a permanent injunction to prevent the Appellant/trust from interfering with his possession of the property. The Trial Court dismissed his suit, but Respondent No. 1 appealed to the High Court.
The High Court allowed the appeal and held that he had an irrevocable license over the property, which could only be terminated with a one-month notice. The Appellants then filed a Second Appeal in the High Court, which was allowed. Respondent No. 1 filed a subsequent appeal but passed away before it could be resolved. His legal heirs filed an appeal after three years, which was dismissed for want of prosecution. The Respondents filed multiple applications seeking review and restoration of their case, but they were all dismissed due to non-prosecution. Aggrieved by the judgment and order of the High Court, the Appellants approached the Supreme Court by way of a Civil Appeal.
The Court observed that despite not granting any specific permission to file an application seeking a review of the judgment and decree passed in Second Appeal No. 84 of 1997 in the SLP(Civil) No. 1373 of 2013. The Respondents had filed MCA No. 01 of 2016 seeking review of the said judgment after a period of more than three years. However, MCA No. 01 of 2016 was dismissed for want of prosecution. Subsequently, the Respondents filed several other Miscellaneous Civil Applications; all were dismissed for lack of prosecution. In such circumstances, the Court held that there were no grounds to allow MCA No. 03 of 2019 to seek restoration of MCA No. 01 of 2019. The High Court had allowed the said application, MCA (for restoration) No. 03 of 2019, in MCA (for restoration) No. 01 of 2019, without assigning any reason, which was a gross error.
Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Appeal and set aside the impugned order passed by the High Court.
Cause Title: Vasant Nature Cure Hospital & Pratibha Maternity Hospital Trust & Ors. v Ukaji Ramaji (Deceased thr His Legal Heirs) & Anr. (2023 INSC 825)