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Forum Shopping: Rajasthan HC upholds Rs. 10 Lakh Cost to Petitioner Engaged in Bench Hunting

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Tanisha Rana

Published on: 20 August, 2022 at 16:58 IST

The single-judge of the Jodhpur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court has recently passed an order imposing Rs. 10 lakhs in costs to a petitioner engaged in forum shopping [Dhanwantri Institute of Medical Science v The State of Rajasthan].

A bench comprising of Justice Vinod Kumar Bharwani and Justice Manindra Mohan Shrivastava expressed that a petitioner approaching the court under Article 226 of the Constitution has to do so with clean hands only. 

The court stated,

“The conduct of the appellant-writ petitioner is highly condemnable and the observation made by the learned single-judge that the writ petitioner was engaged in bench hunting cannot be said to be without any basis.”

The writ petition filed by the petitioner Dhanwantri Institute of Medical Science was dismissed by a single-judge at the Jaipur Bench with the liberty for the petitioner to file a fresh petitioner in view of subsequent developments in the case.

On the very next day, the same plea was filed by the petitioner at the Jodhpur Bench of the Rajasthan High Court. Interestingly, the affidavit in support of this second petition was prepared before the dismissal of the first plea.

Further, a false affidavit was also produced by the petitioner stating that no such petition was filed elsewhere.

The single-judge imposed heavy costs after finding that the petitioner was indulging in forum shopping, which was then appealed.

The petitioner argued that the costs were not warranted, since the second petition was filed only in accordance with the exercise of liberty which was granted in the first round of litigation. Therefore, it was argued that this could not be treated as forum shopping.

Ultimately, the decision was upheld by the court and the petitioner’s request for reduction of courts was also denied since the single-judge’s order was upheld on merits.

The court held,

“It being an Institution and not a poor person belonging to marginalized section of the society, even in the matter of imposition of cost, we find no ground to interfere.”