Last week, while hearing a plea, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said that he will not permit forum shopping. The CJI made this remark to a litigant appearing before him, who sought a hearing, although he had mentioned the same case a day before Justice K.M. Joseph.
What is forum shopping?
• It is generally defined as the practice of choosing the court in which to bring an action from among those courts that could properly exercise jurisdiction based on determination of which court is likely to provide the most favourable outcome.
• The Indian judiciary has time and again reiterated that forum shopping takes several hues and shades.
• The Supreme Court has condemned the practice of forum shopping by litigants and termed it as an abuse of law and also deciphered different categories of forum shopping.
• Forum shopping has been termed as disreputable practice by the courts and has no sanction and paramountcy in law.
• Many countries use the “forum non-conveniens” principle to prevent forum shopping. “Forum non- conveniens” refers to a court’s discretionary power to decline to exercise its jurisdiction where another court, or forum, may more conveniently hear a case.
Some examples of forum shopping
An example of forum shopping is when a litigant approaches one court for relief but does not get the desired relief and then approaches another court for the same relief.
This occurred in Rajiv Bhatia vs govt of NCT of Delhi and Others. The respondent-mother of a young child had filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Rajasthan High Court and apparently did not get the required relief from that court. She then filed a petition in the Delhi High Court also for a writ of habeas corpus and obtained the necessary relief. Notwithstanding this, the Supreme Court did not interfere with the order passed by the Delhi High Court for the reason that this Court ascertained the views of the child and found that she did not want to even talk to her adoptive parents and therefore the custody of the child granted by the Delhi High Court to the respondent-mother was not interfered with.
Another case of creating circumstances for the purposes of forum shopping was World Tanker Carrier Corporation vs SNP Shipping Services Pvt. Ltd. and Others, wherein it was observed that the respondent/plaintiff had made a deliberate attempt to bring the cause of action namely a collision between two vessels on the high seas within the jurisdiction of the Bombay High Court. Bringing one of the vessels to Bombay in order to confer jurisdiction on the Bombay High Court had the character of forum shopping rather than anything else.
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