Delhi High Court: Judges Ought to Never Forget That Courts Are of Justice and Not of Procedure

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The Court heard a Review Application against a judgement which put an end to a protracted and financially draining litigation between a wife and her husband/ sisters-in-law.

Brief Facts of the Case

This suit commenced out of a dispute between a husband and wife namely Mon Mohan Kohli (MMK) and Natasha Kohli (Natasha). MMK was a financially stable person. He had been suffering from a stroke since July 2013 and was unable to decide for himself. In 2013, a medical opinion came that his intellect was that of a six-year-old. Kumkum Mahajan and Vinay Mahajan had filed an application stating their brother’s ill health, to claim guardianship over the person and property. Thus, the Court appointed them as guardians.

The litigation between a husband and wife soon became a dispute with her sisters-in-law and refused to die down. The couple had a son namely Rishab. He was also a party to the
proceedings through Natasha. MMK, in a sound mental state, had executed a Will in 2006, bequeathing his entire estate in favour of Rishab except some bequests. During the pendency of the litigation, successive retired Judges of the Court came as ‘Court Observers’ to overlook the business and financial interests of MMK. The assets of MMK were also depleting due to several expenses incurred during the entire course of Litigation.

The Court disposed off the litigation of the four proceedings vide judgement dated 24th June 2020. Therefore, they filed a review application (R.A.) on 13th May 2020. The R.A. sought stay of execution of the judgement. It also sought direction of payment of legal costs incurred by the review applicant.

Contentions by the Parties

It was the contention of the counsel for Rishab that the arguments by the counsel for review applicant was different from what was pleaded in the R.A. and the rejoinder filed to the replies thereto. A few paragraphs were also pointed out to show that what was being challenged during the hearing was being admitted in the pleadings. Natasha was willing to give up all the rights asserted in various litigations as she wanted to end them all.

The counsels who had appeared on behalf of Kumkum and Vinay for the hearings of the order of 24th February did not represent them for the current R.A. The counsel specified that if called upon the earlier counsels would come forward to controvert. Thus, the counsel sought deletion of paragraphs to which the counsel for Rishab drew the Court’s attention. They claimed to have filed the application for the betterment of MMK. Kumkum and Vinay suggested that the litigation be kept in abeyance rather than being ended.

Court’s Observation

A single judge bench of Hon’ble Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw decided the case. The hearing was held via video conferencing. The four litigations were disposed to prevent MMK’s assets
from depleting. MMK was unable to experience the pains of matrimony, and the cause of action of the litigations.

In various cases like Shipping Corporation of India Ltd. Vs Machado Brothers (2004), Pushpawati Vs. Narain Prasad Gupta 2013, the Court stated that if the cause of action ceases to exist, there is no permission for litigation to continue thereafter and there should be a stop. If a suit continued even after the cause of action had ceased, it would amount to abuse of the process of the Court. The Court said that it was not the function of the Court to invite anyone to make a case for them.

The Court enquired from the counsel of applicant whether the 24th February judgement had not made any arrangements for the best interest of MMK and his affairs of business and finance. It questioned if the guardians continued the litigation by the R.A. for the betterment of MMK or for satisfying their own egos.

“The Judges presiding over the Courts ought not to ever forget, that the Courts are of justice, and not of procedure.” The Court stated that the rules are just instruments of law and justice and rules are not justice. The Court condemned the attitude of applicants as they were looking for proverbial legal solution of cutting the baby into half.

Court’s Decision

Rishab could participate in the businesses and rejuvenate the same as he was a major and MMK had bequeathed a Will. Kumkum and also Vinay could continue the guardianship for
MMK. Their status was reduced to ‘Ayahs’. The monies spent for the benefit of MMK is under their accountability. The Court retained the guardianship of the property for the time being
as done for the past six years. Neither grounds for review or for grant for any reliefs nor for withdrawing averments in the rejoinder/ R.A. made out. Therefore, the Court dismissed this Review Application and the Interlocutory Application.


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