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With the passage of time, the reliefs sought by the plaintiff will become infructuous if the litigation concerns a matter that has already taken place: Madras High Court

A litigation which concerns a matter that had taken place in the past cannot be allowed since there would be no effective progress and the suit would just remain pending in the court of law. Since such a suit would serve no purpose, it will become infructuous. This was decreed by The Hon’ble Mr. Justice C.V. Karthikeyan in THE MUDALIAR EDUCATIONAL TRUST Vs. N. M. Sundarar [C.R.P. (PD) No. 3551 of 2019].

 The brief facts of the case are, a suit was filed against the first defendant and the district collector of Erode in a nature of declaration that the elections conducted for the general council and executive committee were invalid and for a permanent injunction restraining the third and sixth defendants from functioning as office bearers and for a mandatory injunction to appoint an Advocate Commissioner to conduct the election for the first defendant Trust. The suit remained idle without any effective progress. The first defendant filed an Interlocutory application to dismiss the suit as infructuous since the election in question had run its course and 2 subsequent fresh elections were conducted and steps to conduct fresh elections in 2021 have also been taken up by the defendant. It was also observed that, the said set of office bearers had also been recognized by the District Registrar, who had taken their names on record and they had also taken charge of their respective posts. Contending this, a counter had been filed on behalf of the plaintiff wherein he mentioned that the cause of action is still alive and is not wiped away merely because of the passage of time. On 03.09.2019, an order was passed dismissing the applications by the learned judge.

The plaintiff claimed that the elections of the year 2015 constituted irregularities since the second defendant ignored the legal notice issued by the plaintiff and proceeded with the elections and declared the elected body as unopposed. The learned counsel also mentioned that such irregularities cannot be ignored merely on the basis of passage of time and declaration must still be awarded. However, this was disputed by the learned counsel for the revision petitioner wherein he relied on AIR 2002 SC 1649 [ J.M.Biswas Vs. N.K.Bhattacharjee and others] where the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that, “Further, successive elections have been held to elect office bearers and the office bearers so elected have been recognized by the management. In the circumstances, continuing this litigation will be like flogging the dead horse. Such litigation, irrespective of the result, will neither benefit the parties in the litigation nor will serve the interest of the Union. Accepting the contentions raised on behalf of respondent No. 1 that the successive elections held in the meantime were invalid because he was not permitted to participate in it and to quash all such elections and direct holding of fresh elections under the supervision of the Court, will be contrary to democratic functioning of the employees Union. Furthermore, Courts in the present situation of exploding dockets can ill afford to stand time in such an exercise

After listening to both the parties, the learned judge ruled that the suit file against the defendant would serve no purpose since the relief sought by the plaintiff has become infructuous due to the passage of time. The learned judge relied on the case cited by the counsel for the revision petitioner [supra]. “I hold that keeping the suit on file and re-examining the issues would only be, as the Hon’ble Supreme Court put it, “flogging a dead horse”. The result of the litigation will benefit none of the parties to the suit.” The civil revision petition was allowed and the suit was struck off the records on the grounds of being infructuous.

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