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Court Cuts: When Justice Khehar slapped costs on two different litigants, one after the other, and dismissed their SLPs

Khehar J, like samurai, prefers discipline
Khehar J, like samurai, prefers discipline

At Court No 3 before noon today, the going was tough for the special leave petitions (SLPs), in direct proportion to the persistence of the counsel with their pleas.

The SLP filed by Dharma Dondu Bharam against State of Maharashtra, which was listed as item 37 was one such.

Rajendra Anbhule, who argued the matter for the petitioners - 27 slum dwellers refusing to accept alternate accommodation offered to them - ended up having to pay Rs 20,000 towards costs simply because he persisted with his plea for justice to the slum dwellers, whom he represented.

The slum dwellers, facing eviction, as part of the slum clearance policy being pursued by the state government, had been given alternate accommodation; but they had challenged the clearance order before the slum tribunal, and on this ground, they wanted suspension of the slum clearance scheme.

The slum tribunal had already dismissed the stay application of the slum dwellers. The Bombay high court then vacated its stay granted earlier, and dismissed their writ petition.

Against this dismissal, the SLP was filed in the Supreme Court.

Justice JS Khehar, dismissing the petition, observed: "These slum dwellers have been directed to vacate but they want their pound of flesh, by demanding money from the builder. Keep fighting your rights; we see it every day. We want to stop people from misusing this jurisdiction."

When Anbhule persisted, Justice Khehar then imposed Rs 20,000 as costs payable to the Supreme Court Legal Services Authority.

Second time unlucky

The next item, 38, also proved to be costly for the litigant, as her counsel, Dipak Kumar Jena, too persisted, after Justice Khehar dismissed the SLP filed against the Delhi high court order in a matrimonial-cum-property dispute.

Khehar first imposed a cost of Rs 20,000.

When that did not deter Jena, who continued to persist, he raised it to Rs 40,000.

When Jena apologised to him and sought mercy because his client is a lady, Khehar said that the bench could accept apology only when it issues a notice of contempt, and he had done no wrong, so there was no need to apologise.

Khehar also added that the costs were justified to maintain judicial discipline in the court.

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