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‘Forum Shopping’

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

Source: IE

 Context: Recently, CJI Chandrachud has condemned ‘forum shopping’.

 

Forum shopping refers to the practice of litigants or lawyers deliberately selecting a particular judge or court where they believe the judgment will be more favourable to their case. This practice involves choosing a court that is likely to provide the most favourable outcome, rather than following the standard legal process.

 

Issues with Forum Shopping:

  • It circumvents the normal course of justice and can lead to an imbalance in the workload of courts.
  • The Supreme Court has condemned this practice. It has no sanction in law and must be discouraged.
  • Ethical issues: Unfair advantage; Manipulation of the legal system

Recourse available with courts in case of ‘forum Shopping’:

  • Courts may exercise discretionary powers and refuse jurisdiction over a matter if another court or forum is more suitable. This ensures that cases are allocated to the appropriate bench and promotes fairness and justice.
  • Courts can impose fines on litigants

 

SC judgements on ‘Forum Shopping’:

  • SC in 1998 (Chetak Construction Ltd. vs. Om Prakash): “A litigant cannot be permitted choice of the forum,” and that every attempt at forum shopping “must be crushed with a heavy hand.”
  • SC (2017) (‘Union of India & Ors. vs. Cipla Ltd.’): SC laid down a “functional test” to be adopted for forum shopping.
  • SC (2022) (Vijay Kumar Ghai vs. State of W.B.): Supreme Court termed forum shopping as a “disreputable practise by the courts” that “has no sanction and paramountcy in law”.

 

Related term:

The practice of “bench hunting” refers to petitioners attempting to have their cases heard by a specific judge or court in order to obtain a favourable order.