Karnataka HC slaps Rs 5 lakh cost on advocate over non-disclosure of details

26/09/2022

BENGALURU, Sep 25: Non-disclosure of material particulars about oneself, a mandatory requirement for any litigant, proved costly for an appellant-petitioner and advocate. The high court slapped a cost of Rs 5 lakh on him for not approaching it with clean hands.
The appellant, P Mohan Chandra, belatedly disclosed (at the time of dictating judgment) that he is a practising advocate. A resident of Sullia in Dakshina Kannada district, he had challenged the appointment of chief information commissioner NC Srinivas (former law secretary) and state information commissioners SM Somashekara (retired Indian Forest Service officer) and KP Manjunath (an advocate) in 2019. On April 21, 2022, a single bench rejected the petition and Mohan Chandra challenged it.
"Admittedly, in the present case, the appellant is a practising advocate, as disclosed by him during the course of dictating this judgment. He should have responsibility towards society and know his limits," a division bench headed by Justice B Veerappa observed.
"The experience of this court depicts that in recent years, there has emerged a trend of filing speculative litigations before various courts of law, not just in the court of first instance, but also in the high court as well as before the Supreme Court. This augurs ill for the health of our judicial system. It is the duty of the courts to ensure that such litigations are weeded out at the first instance rather than being allowed to fester and come in the way of genuine litigants seeking justice and to protect precious public and judicial time of the court," the bench noted.
The division bench pointed out that the appellant/petitioner is an aspirant to the post of CIC and state information commissioner and has not laid down foundations to contend that he is eligible for the posts, as contemplated under Section 15(5) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
"When the appellant has not laid down any foundation, he has no locus to challenge the appointment of respondent Nos. 2 to 4. Moreover, this is not a public interest litigation, whereas it is a personal interest litigation. On that ground also, the appellant is not entitled to any relief," the bench further added.
Respondent Srinivas' advocate GN Sharath Gowda argued that the petitioner had worked as a civil judge (junior division) and was discharged from service on March 6, 2018, by the high court after being charged with dereliction of duty and misconduct. Such a person cannot be considered for a sensitive post such as chief information commissioner, Gowda said.
Two-month window
Mohan Chandra has been directed to deposit the cost amount of Rs 5 lakh with the Advocates' Association, Bengaluru, within two months from date of receipt of the certified order copy. If he fails, the registry has been directed to post the matter before the court for implementation of the order, the bench added.

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