“If We Come Across Such Frivolous Litigations…”: Court Warns Karnataka

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The High Court of Karnataka stopped short of imposing a fine of Rs 10 lakh on the state government, while hearing a petition filed by it, against a retired assistant sub-inspector of police’s acquittal by the Karnataka State Administrative Tribunal (KSAT).
The court said it was giving a last warning to the State about filing frivolous cases.

“We are not sure that acceding to the request of the learned Advocate General would help in driving home the message but yet keeping in mind the standing of the office of the learned Advocate General and the earnestness of the learned Advocate General, we desist from imposing cost but it is made clear that this shall be treated as a last warning,” it said.

“In future, if the Bench comes across such frivolous litigations, nothing would stop us from being punitively harsh not only in the matter of imposing exemplary costs, but also passing strictures against the officers concerned,” the division bench of Justices G Narendar and PN Desai said in their recent judgment.

The retired assistant sub-inspector Rahamathulla was facing charges of disproportionate assets. However, the KSAT found no evidence against him. Despite that, the state decided to file a writ petition in the High Court challenging it.

In an earlier order, the High Court had said that “it is amply clear that what respondent has faced is not a prosecution but something other than that.”

The High Court issued a show cause notice to the state government asking why it should not impose a fine of Rs 10 lakh on it for filing such frivolous cases.

“In that view of the matter and in view of the previous alerts, warnings and reminders passed by this Court, we deem it necessary to impose a cost of Rs 10 lakhs to be paid by the State and we also propose to grant liberty to the first petitioner-State to conduct an enquiry and recover the same from the officers. Show cause as to why the cost of Rs 10 lakhs should not be imposed,” the High Court had said.

Following this, the Advocate General had in a hearing placed a policy before the court by which such disputes would be resolved and not brought before the High Court.

“The learned Advocate General has placed before the Court a Policy Document framed by the Law Department, Government of Karnataka and titled ‘Karnataka State Dispute Resolution Policy’.”

“The learned Advocate General would submit that an exhaustive exercise was conducted by the office of the Advocate General in consultation with other stakeholders and the result of the exercise is the Policy Document,” the High Court recorded.

The high court dismissed the petition and noted, “Coming to the case on hand, the allegations have been ripped apart in the course of cross-examination and from every conceivable angle.”

The wife of the accused was engaged in tailoring business and was having an independent source of income. His son, an engineer by profession, was gainfully employed in Bengaluru. He possessed certain properties even prior to the date of his entry into service.

He had rental income from buildings owned by him and also received agricultural income. All these sources of income had been declared to the employer.

“Despite the declaration, in the enquiry, the Enquiry Officer and the Disciplinary Authority have conveniently ignored all these sources of income and have not brought it on record, which we feel is not an inadvertent act but a deliberate omission,” the court observed.

The High Court also directed that the Policy Document prepared should be circulated among all concerned officers including all law officers of the State and other stakeholders. The Law Secretary was directed to “conduct workshops for all stakeholders in order to educate them about the Policy Document and implementation of the same.”

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