In an attempt to prevent protracted litigation in civil disputes, the Supreme Court has laid down guidelines, directing the trial courts not to grant interim stay without hearing the second party and impose heavy costs to control “unnecessary adjournments.”
A bench headed by justice Dalveer Bhandari issued the guidelines in wake of growing instances where parties, who obtain stay in their favour, file “frivolous” applications to delay the proceedings.
The court’s direction came while it decided a petition filed by a woman who has been fighting a 40-year-old property dispute that was started by her husband and his brother. The bench slapped a fine of R2 lakh on the petitioner for filing a “frivolous petition” before the Delhi high court to delay the case. Due to the petition, the petitioner had managed to stall the eviction suit pending against him before the trial court for more than a decade.
“We are imposing the costs not out of anguish but by following the fundamental principle that wrongdoers should not get benefit out of frivolous litigation,” the bench said, adding, “The appellants in the instant case have harassed the respondents to the hilt for four decades in a totally frivolous and dishonest litigation.”
The SC said the courts should be cautious in granting interim injunctions or stay in the absence of the opposite party. Short notice should be issued to hear both the parties and then pass suitable biparte orders. “Experience reveals that ex-parte interim injunction orders in some cases can create havoc and getting them vacated or modified in our existing judicial system is a nightmare,” the bench added.
It also cautioned the trial courts from entertaining miscellaneous applications filed on the basis of forged documents.