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Exemplary Costs On Frivolous Litigation


Frivolous and groundless filing of cases constitutes a serious menace to the administration of justice. They consume time and clog the infrastructure. Productive resources and capital, which should be used in the handling of genuine causes, are dissipated in attending to cases filed only to benefit from delay, by prolonging dead issues and pursuing worthless causes.

The sanctity of the judicial process will be seriously eroded if such attempts are not dealt with firmly. A litigant who takes liberties with the truth or with the procedures of the court should be left in no doubt about the consequences to follow.

This tendency can be curbed only if courts across the system adopt an institutional approach which penalizes such behavior. Without remedial action taken by all courts here and now, our society will breed a legal culture based on evasion instead of abidance. The Courts should impose exemplary costs on people who file frivolous petitions because such litigation chokes the judicial system.

The Supreme Court in Sanjeev Kumar Jain Vs. Raghubir Saran Charitable Trust has dealt with the relevant provisions under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for the award of compensatory and punitive costs in favor of the successful party. The Supreme Court in this landmark judgment has suggested a hike in the quantum of costs on persons indulging in frivolous and vexatious litigations, which are clogging up the justice delivery system in the country.

Provisions dealing with costs under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 are:

  1. Section 35 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, vests the discretion to award costs in the courts. It provides that normally the costs should follow the event and court shall have full power to determine by whom or out of what property, and to what extent such costs are to be paid. Most of the costs taxing rules, including the rules in force in Delhi provide each party should file a bill of cost immediately after the judgment is delivered setting out:

  1. the court fee paid;

  2. process fee spent;

  3. expenses of witnesses;

  4. advocate’s fee; and

  5. such other amount as may be allowable under the rules or as may be directed by the court as costs.

  1. Section 35A of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, relates to compensatory costs in respect of false or vexatious claims.

  2. Section 35B of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, relates to costs for causing the delay.

  3. Order XXA of the Code provides for costs being awarded in regard to the following six items enumerated in Rule 1

  1. Expenditure which is incurred for the giving of any notice required to be given by law before the institution of the suit;

  2. expenditure which is incurred on any notice which, though not required to be given by law, has been given by any party to the suit to any other party before the institution of the suit;

  3. expenditure which is incurred on the typing, writing or printing of pleadings filed by any party;

  4. charges to be paid by a party for inspection of the records of the court for the purposes of the suit;

  5. expenditure which is incurred by a party for producing witnesses, even though not summoned through courts; and

  6. in the case of appeals, charges incurred by a party for obtaining any copies of judgments and decrees which are required to be filed along with the memorandum of appeal.

  1. Rule 2 of Order XXA provides that award of costs under this Rule shall be in accordance with such rules as the High Court may make in this behalf.

In Salem Advocates Bar Association, Tamil Nadu. v. Union of India, this Court suggested to the High Courts that they should examine the Model Case Flow Management Rules and consider making rules in terms of it so that a step ahead is taken to provide to the litigating public a fair, speedy and inexpensive justice. The costs in regard to litigation include:

  1. the court fee and process fee;

  2. the advocate’s fee;

  3. expenses of witnesses; and

  4. other expenses allowable under the Rules.

In Vinod Seth v. Devinder Bajaj, this Court observed that:

The provision for costs is intended to achieve the following goals:

  1. It should act as a deterrent to vexatious, frivolous and speculative litigations or defenses. The specter of being made liable to pay actual costs should be such, as to make every litigant think twice before putting forth a vexatious, frivolous or speculative claim or defense.

  2. Costs should ensure that the provisions of the Code, Evidence Act and other laws governing procedure are scrupulously and strictly complied with and that parties do not adopt delaying tactics or mislead the court.

  3. Costs should provide adequate indemnity to the successful litigant for the expenditure incurred by him for the litigation. This necessitates the award of actual costs of litigation as contrasted from nominal or fixed or unrealistic costs.

  4. The provision for costs should be an incentive for each litigant to adopt alternative dispute resolution processes and arrive at a settlement before the trial commences in most of the cases. In many other jurisdictions, in view of the existence of appropriate and adequate provisions for costs, the litigants are persuaded to settle nearly 90% of the civil suits before they come up to trial.

  5. The provisions relating to costs should not, however, obstruct access to courts and justice. Under no circumstances, the costs should be a deterrent, to a citizen with a genuine or bonafide claim, or to any person belonging to the weaker sections whose rights have been affected, from approaching the courts. At present these goals are sought to be achieved mainly by sections 35, 35A and 35B read with the relevant civil rules of practice relating to taxing of costs.

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Exemplary Costs On Frivolous Litigation


Frivolous and groundless filing of cases constitutes a serious menace to the administration of justice. They consume time and clog the infrastructure. Productive resources and capital, which should be used in the handling of genuine causes, are dissipated in attending to cases filed only to benefit from delay, by prolonging dead issues and pursuing worthless causes.

The sanctity of the judicial process will be seriously eroded if such attempts are not dealt with firmly. A litigant who takes liberties with the truth or with the procedures of the court should be left in no doubt about the consequences to follow.

This tendency can be curbed only if courts across the system adopt an institutional approach which penalizes such behavior. Without remedial action taken by all courts here and now, our society will breed a legal culture based on evasion instead of abidance. The Courts should impose exemplary costs on people who file frivolous petitions because such litigation chokes the judicial system.

The Supreme Court in Sanjeev Kumar Jain Vs. Raghubir Saran Charitable Trust has dealt with the relevant provisions under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for the award of compensatory and punitive costs in favor of the successful party. The Supreme Court in this landmark judgment has suggested a hike in the quantum of costs on persons indulging in frivolous and vexatious litigations, which are clogging up the justice delivery system in the country.

Provisions dealing with costs under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 are:

  1. Section 35 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, vests the discretion to award costs in the courts. It provides that normally the costs should follow the event and court shall have full power to determine by whom or out of what property, and to what extent such costs are to be paid. Most of the costs taxing rules, including the rules in force in Delhi provide each party should file a bill of cost immediately after the judgment is delivered setting out:

  1. the court fee paid;

  2. process fee spent;

  3. expenses of witnesses;

  4. advocate’s fee; and

  5. such other amount as may be allowable under the rules or as may be directed by the court as costs.

  1. Section 35A of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, relates to compensatory costs in respect of false or vexatious claims.

  2. Section 35B of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, relates to costs for causing the delay.

  3. Order XXA of the Code provides for costs being awarded in regard to the following six items enumerated in Rule 1

  1. Expenditure which is incurred for the giving of any notice required to be given by law before the institution of the suit;

  2. expenditure which is incurred on any notice which, though not required to be given by law, has been given by any party to the suit to any other party before the institution of the suit;

  3. expenditure which is incurred on the typing, writing or printing of pleadings filed by any party;

  4. charges to be paid by a party for inspection of the records of the court for the purposes of the suit;

  5. expenditure which is incurred by a party for producing witnesses, even though not summoned through courts; and

  6. in the case of appeals, charges incurred by a party for obtaining any copies of judgments and decrees which are required to be filed along with the memorandum of appeal.

  1. Rule 2 of Order XXA provides that award of costs under this Rule shall be in accordance with such rules as the High Court may make in this behalf.

In Salem Advocates Bar Association, Tamil Nadu. v. Union of India, this Court suggested to the High Courts that they should examine the Model Case Flow Management Rules and consider making rules in terms of it so that a step ahead is taken to provide to the litigating public a fair, speedy and inexpensive justice. The costs in regard to litigation include:

  1. the court fee and process fee;

  2. the advocate’s fee;

  3. expenses of witnesses; and

  4. other expenses allowable under the Rules.

In Vinod Seth v. Devinder Bajaj, this Court observed that:

The provision for costs is intended to achieve the following goals:

  1. It should act as a deterrent to vexatious, frivolous and speculative litigations or defenses. The specter of being made liable to pay actual costs should be such, as to make every litigant think twice before putting forth a vexatious, frivolous or speculative claim or defense.

  2. Costs should ensure that the provisions of the Code, Evidence Act and other laws governing procedure are scrupulously and strictly complied with and that parties do not adopt delaying tactics or mislead the court.

  3. Costs should provide adequate indemnity to the successful litigant for the expenditure incurred by him for the litigation. This necessitates the award of actual costs of litigation as contrasted from nominal or fixed or unrealistic costs.

  4. The provision for costs should be an incentive for each litigant to adopt alternative dispute resolution processes and arrive at a settlement before the trial commences in most of the cases. In many other jurisdictions, in view of the existence of appropriate and adequate provisions for costs, the litigants are persuaded to settle nearly 90% of the civil suits before they come up to trial.

  5. The provisions relating to costs should not, however, obstruct access to courts and justice. Under no circumstances, the costs should be a deterrent, to a citizen with a genuine or bonafide claim, or to any person belonging to the weaker sections whose rights have been affected, from approaching the courts. At present these goals are sought to be achieved mainly by sections 35, 35A and 35B read with the relevant civil rules of practice relating to taxing of costs.

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