The act of forum shopping cannot be permitted and reflects the conduct of the petitioner in a poor light: High Court of Delhi

The practice of choosing the court in which to bring an action from among those courts that could properly exercise jurisdiction based on a determination of which court is likely to provide the most favourable outcome, known as forum shopping, cannot be permitted under Indian law.  This was held in the judgement passed by a single member bench of the High Court of Delhi consisting of Justice Asha Menon in the case of Sunil Kumar Vaid v General Mohyal Sabha & others [CM (M) 468/2021] pronounced on 22nd July 2021.

The petitioner, Sunil Kumar Vaid filed this petition challenging the order dated 15th July 2021 by the Trial Court. The petitioner argued that the trial court has ignored the petitioner’s plea that ballot papers may be distributed on that day. This was based on the report by an earlier Election Observer who declared that ballot papers were not properly issued by the then election commission and that the same was likely to prevail now. For these reasons the petitioner prayed that the order from 15th July 2021 be set aside and a Court observer be appointed to supervise, monitor and conduct the Society Elections of the respondent no.1.

The counsel appearing for the respondent no. 1/The Society submitted that this was the third occasion when the petitioner has come before this court with the exact same prayer regarding the appointment of a Court Observer to conduct the elections. It was pointed out that the first order was dated 3rd March 2021 when the petitioner had sought leave to withdraw the writ petition. The second order is dated 23rd March 2021 when again the petitioner sought leave to withdraw the petition. In the present case despite the fact that the application for appointment of an observer is to be heard by the Trial Court, the petitioner has come before this court. The counsel for the respondent also submitted before the court that the petitioner had initially filed the suit without impleading the election committee and subsequently the petitioner moved an application under Order I Rule 10 CPC for impleading the committee which was allowed vide the impugned order dated 15th July 2021. It was also noted that the Election Commission did not have any of the previous members and therefore the old observations were irrelevant.

The High Court noted that there was absolutely no merit in the petition and that an application for an early hearing had already been moved by the petitioner before the trial court. Justice Asha Menon concluded that “Despite this, the petitioner has chosen to move this Court with exactly the same prayer. Obviously, this appears to be nothing short of forum shopping. The approach of the petitioner/plaintiff in repeatedly moving this Court and withdrawing the petitions with permission to move similar applications before the learned Trial Court, reflects the conduct of the petitioner in very poor light”.

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