The Supreme Court is empowered at any stage to transfer any suit, appeal or other proceeding from a High court or other Civil Court in one State to a High Court or other civil court of another state if it is satisfied that such an order is expedient for the ends of justice.
Bench: Ahmadi, A.M.(J)
The Respondent had filed a suit for defamation in the Bombay High Court against the petitioner, claiming Rupees one crore as damages for the injury alleged to have been caused to his reputation by the publication/imputation of certain alleged defamatory statements made by the petitioner at a Press Conference held at New Delhi. The allegation in the plaint was that the petitioner levelled several accusations at the said Press Conference which were widely circulated/reported in the newspapers of 1989. In substance the allegation was that the Respondent and his family members pocketed more than Rs.300 crores through fraudulent deals in lands situate in Bangalore and other parts of Karnataka, whereby the respondent favoured his relatives/friends, besides non-resident Indians. By the instant petition, filed by the petitioner under Section 25. Code of Civil Procedure, the petitioner prays for the transfer of the said suit pending in Bombay High Court to any Civil Court in Karnataka, preferably the City Civil Court at Bangalore on the ground of forum non-convenience.
The respondent is against transferring the suit and further contends that being the dominus litis he was entitled to choose the forum.
1. Whether the Supreme Court is empowered at any stage to transfer any suit, appeal or other proceeding from a High court or other Civil Court in one State to a High Court or other civil court of another state if it is satisfied that such an order is expedient for the ends of justice.
Contentions raised by the Appellant:
The appellant contends that the most appropriate place for the trial of the suit filed by the respondent is the State of Karnataka where the various acts complained of were committed by the respondent from time to time during his tenure as the Chief Minister of the State.
It is also submitted by the appellant that the respondent has not made a serious attempt to counter the grounds on which the transfer petition is founded.
Contentions raised by the Respondent:
The respondent contends that mere convenience of the appellant and absence of likelihood of prejudice to the respondent should not weigh with the court in directing the transfer of the suit from the Bombay High Court to a Civil Court in Karnataka.
The Supreme Court is empowered at any stage to transfer any suit, appeal or other proceeding from a High Court or other Civil Court in one State to a High Court or other Civil Court of another State if it is satisfied that such an Order is expedient for the ends of justice.
The ends of justice in the instant case demand that the suit be transferred from the Bombay High Court to the City Civil Court, Bangalore, where most of the documentary evidence and the majority of witnesses are available. Since the respondent ordinarily resides in Bangalore and was the Chief Minister of Karnataka during the period the various acts of which he is accused of took place, the impact of the accusation would be as much, if not more, on the readers of Bangalore. No prejudice, much less substantial prejudice would be caused to the respondent if the suit is transferred as prayed.
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