SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has recently fined the Director of Health Services Kashmir Rs 2 lakh for engaging in futile legal proceedings to obstruct the enforcement of a 2003 decree.
In an order by Justice Atul Sreedharan, the court rejected the plea, imposed costs, and stated that the department’s “repeated frivolous litigation” over two decades amounted to an “abuse of process,” leaving the decree-holder in limbo.
The case originated in 2001 when legal assistant Iqbal Ahmad Baqal filed a civil suit against the Director of Health Services and another party for an alleged breach of contract. The court ruled in Baqal’s favour in 2003, issuing a decree that the department failed to comply with. Instead of fulfilling its obligations, the department initiated a prolonged legal battle, filing various appeals and petitions to delay the decree’s execution.
The department’s attempts to stall justice included a time-barred first appeal, a revision petition, a writ petition, and even a second appeal filed after a staggering 13-year delay. Additionally, they filed petitions to restore the writ petition and condone the delay in its restoration, all of which were dismissed by various courts.
In 2018, the respondents approached the Executing Court, asserting they had already complied with the 2003 decree. Despite the Executing Court instructing one of the judgment debtors to appear on May 30, 2018, to show cause, the directive went unheeded. Instead of compliance, the petitioners opted to file the present petition, alleging that the Executing Court’s order was legally flawed.
Justice Sreedharan, in his order, underscored the petitioners’ history of neglect and delay. Despite ample opportunities to present their case, the petitioner Department chose further delay by filing the current petition, pending for five years.
The court emphasised that the department had sufficient chances to explain its compliance with the decree before the executing court but opted for frivolous litigation. Recognising the blatant disregard for court orders and system manipulation, the court imposed a Rs. 2,00,000/- fine on the petitioners, payable to the decree-holder within 30 days. Additionally, the court granted the Union Territory the liberty to recover costs from the Director of Health Services, Kashmir.
Upon dismissing the plea, the matter was listed on March 11, 2024 to secure compliance. (LiveLaw)