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Litigants must choose a single forum, either Allahabad or Lucknow bench and not switch between them: Allahabad HC

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LI Network

Published on: December 1, 2023 at 11:46 IST

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court recently emphasized that litigants do not have a “kangaroo right” to freely move between the Allahabad and Lucknow benches.

In the case of Prem Prakash Yadav v. Union of India, the division bench of Justice Vivek Chaudhary and Justice Manish Kumar highlighted the unique challenge faced by the Lucknow bench due to litigants filing petitions related to the same subject matter before both benches.

The court referred to Clause-14 of the United Provinces High Court (Amalgamation) Order, pointing out that while petitions can be transferred from Lucknow to Allahabad by the Chief Justice, the reverse is not permitted. Matters filed in Allahabad must be heard there, and the Lucknow bench cannot summon them, leading to a distinct difficulty.

The judges in Lucknow emphasized that litigants, under the guise of their right to choose a forum, should not cause inconvenience to the court by unnecessarily bifurcating and prolonging matters. They stated, “A party has a choice to invoke jurisdiction of this Court either at Allahabad or at Lucknow and once they have exercised the said choice, parties should restrict themselves to their initial choice of forum while filing later petitions.”

The court noted the frequent occurrence of such disputes before the Lucknow bench and called for a resolution of the issue. It highlighted the unnecessary hurdles created when parties change jurisdiction, affecting the efficient disposal of cases.

The specific case before the court involved a tenant-landlord dispute, with the petitioner being a practicing advocate.

The respondents challenged the maintainability of the petition, arguing that the petitioner had previously filed two petitions on the same dispute before the Allahabad bench.

The petitioner contended that the cause of action for the latest petition arose within the territorial jurisdiction of both Lucknow and Allahabad, making it maintainable.

The court concluded that the filing of the petition in Lucknow amounted to “forum hunting” and emphasized that the convenience of all parties, as well as the court, should be considered. It labeled the case as a “glaring example” of a litigant hopping between jurisdictions and attributed the difficulty faced by the court to the petitioner’s actions.

The court dismissed the plea, urging the petitioner to file the same at Allahabad, and emphasized that litigants should stick to their chosen jurisdiction unless they can provide compelling reasons for any change.