SC imposes special costs on CDA for filing 'frivolous case'

The Supreme Court has imposed special costs to the tune of Rs500,000 on the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for filing a 'frivolous' case and 'overburdening' the court with vexatious cases and thereby delaying and denying the rightful claim of access to justice guaranteed under Article 9 of the Constitution.

The 10-page judgment authored by Justice Ayesha Malik and also signed by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah was issued while hearing a petition filed by CDA against Islamabad High Court’s judgment essentially on the ground that a disputed plot in G-8 Markaz was a non-transferable plot and could not have been sold or transferred outside of the family of the original allottee.

“Such frivolous litigation also impairs expeditious justice and offends Article 37(d) of the Principles of Policy under the Constitution,” the judgement noted and cited rule A(3) of Order XXVIII of Part VI of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980 (Rule) — which provides that court may impose costs on a party who files a false or vexatious appeal or other proceedings and thereby wastes the time of the court.

The judgment further pointed out that the court time can be well spent on handling genuine cases as opposed to pursuing cases “which are vexatious and meritless on their face and which have already been decided between the parties”.

“The petitioner (CDA) is a responsible public institution which is to work and function for the benefit of the public and undeniably, the same deliberately wasted time and resources of the court which itself runs on taxpayer’s money.”

The ruling further emphasised that it must be appreciated by the CDA that it is not the role of the courts to “fix” the internal managerial shortcomings of the institution. It added that authority sought to bring a matter of its own internal affairs into the court, instead of resolving the matter at its own end, “for what only appears to be an attempt to unduly emphasise on one transfer and ignore all others”.

The respondents, on the other hand, without any fault on their part, have suffered long drawn periods of litigation, the judgement noted.

The court noted that this was a classic example of a litigant wasting the time of this court by filing frivolous litigation given that this matter already stands decided by the high court in the Ahmed Murtaza case (supra).

"Furthermore, the dispute, if any, raised by the CDA is based on their own conduct as the record shows that they have themselves transferred the disputed plot outside the family members of Dr Major (retd) Bilqees Muhammad Din repeatedly and yet chose to dispute the transfer in favour of Respondent No.1 notwithstanding the earlier transfers made in favour of different transferees.”

They have taken no action against any officer, nor raised this issue before their own governing body to highlight the fact that their own documents and policy were not being followed by their officers, the judgement observed.

Instead, it added, they chose to litigate the matter and burdened the courts with litigation which does not raise a question of law or fact in good faith. “We find that this kind of litigation being without merit and basis is one an institution, such as the CDA, should not have indulged in.”

“A considerable amount of time has been consumed in hearing this matter, which time admittedly could have actually been consumed hearing other cases not to mention the misrepresentation made by the CDA in failing to disclose the Ahmed Murtaza case (supra),” the court regretted.

It highlighted that what was most disturbing was that the CDA opted to pursue this matter before the top court against the respondents in whose favour there are two judgments dated November 23, 2018 and December 30, 2020.

"We also find that an institution, such as the CDA, must take responsibility for its own decisions and actions even where its officers have acted in contravention of their policy and cannot expect that this court should interfere and correct their wrongs, particularly when the matter has been litigated against and decided against them.”

It further said that this tendency cannot be condoned and has to be denounced because not only does it waste the time of this court but it has also wasted a considerable amount of time of the respondents who have been facing litigation pursued by the petitioner since 2019 as they have been striving to have the transfer in favour of respondent No.1 declared illegal when they themselves transferred the disputed plot in favour of respondent No.2 and admittedly earlier in time, transferred the disputed plot to at least eight different people, which was never challenged by them.

A display of such conduct by the petitioner is in clear violation of the law and cannot be ignored.

The court ordered that the circumstances warranted the imposition of special costs to the tune of Rs500,000 on the petitioner.

“The aforementioned costs shall be deposited in any approved charity. The deposit slip shall be placed on record within one month of this order. In case of failure, the office shall put up the case before the court for necessary orders", the order concluded.

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