Can writ jurisdiction be invoked for effective settlement of disputes between private parties?
Can writ jurisdiction be invoked for effective settlement of disputes between private parties? Normally, a writ petitions filed seeking reliefs against private parties are not entertained by the High Court. A judgment passed by Kerala High Court in October last year, illustrates how such an indulgence by writ courts could help in delivery of justice.
In this case, the Secretary of the Apartment Association [Pranav Le Royale Investors Welfare Society] approached the Court in the year 2014 by filing a writ petition alleging that the builder failed to implement the settlement award and complete the project. In this case, the Court chose to issue notice and later appointed Advocate V.Ramkumar Nambiar as Administrator/Receiver to workout settlement among the parties. Though it took six long years, the Administrator’s interference and monitoring of the case by the Court helped resolving all disputes among the parties and completing the project.
“This is a unique case where justice has been served before penning down this judgment. In adversary litigation, the procedure is often understood as the medium to afoot the rights and liabilities of the litigant paving way for rendering the judgment by the Court. Procedure itself is ordained for fairness and transparency for a definite outcome in the adversary litigation. This case becomes unique as justice itself has been rendered through the procedure than from the judgment. In our administration of justice, the courts are not equipped to handle complex litigation. The civil courts are not in a position to handle disputes involving multiple parties when they are not before the courts. Contradicting position of multiple parties in a litigation is a strain on outcome. The court may not be in a position to render ultimate delivery of justice to the satisfaction of all. This Court understanding the predicament as above ventured to trod on a path of collaborative approach to a settlement of the dispute invoking Article 226 of the Constitution.”, Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque observed in the order recording settlement between the parties.
The court observed that when the State failed to provide measures under the law to administer justice in a complex litigation, the constitutional court can very well invoke such course invoking power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, if the court is of the opinion that effective measures can be taken to protect interest of all. It explained: “A writ of mandamus is understood as a command to compel a person to enforce the right of another person. The writ of mandamus being a pre-eminently a public law remedy is not enforced against private individuals or entities. It is the duty of the State to provide access to justice to aggrieved or injured. The court and institutions under the law are created to serve justice to the persons who are seeking to protect their legal interest. When the State failed to provide measures under the law to administer justice in a complex litigation, the constitutional court can very well invoke such course invoking power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, if the court is of the opinion that effective measures can be taken to protect interest of all.”
The judge clarified that the court cannot convert the writ jurisdiction to decide any dispute which is in the nature of a civil dispute. Rather it has to delineate measures that can be taken to protect the interest of all without embarking up on any dispute which civil court alone can decide. “By complex litigation, I mean when multiple parties are involved in relation to a transaction and numerous interests in such transaction is not in a position to unite their legal interest to the satisfaction of all and the institution which is supposed to deliver justice in such situation cannot handle or combine the numerous interest for the benefit of all.”, Justice Mustaque said.
“This case has created a history by rendering justice to more than 188 persons and also to the landowner and builder. This case would remain as a pointer to show collaborative efforts would yield results. To conclude, this Court record its appreciation to Shri Ramkumar Nambiar V. for the efforts taken by him to make this case historical”, the judge noted in the order.