The Karnataka High Court recently levied charges of Rs 10 lakh on the non-profit group, India Awake for Transparency for filing several pleas on the same cause of action, seeking to lodge a complaint against the founding chairman of Wipro Azim Premji and others.
Justice PS Dinesh Kumar observed that the petitioner had filed several writ petitions in the High Court seeking criminal action on charges of financial fraud in companies owned by Azim Premji.
“There remains no doubt that petitioner is indulging in forum shopping on the very same cause of action. As held in Udyami, this amounts to criminal contempt as the core issue in all these writ petitions is one and the same…As a result, this writ petition is not only devoid of merits but an absolute abuse of the process of law. Though the petitioner was forewarned, he chose to argue this writ petition as a stand-alone petition wasting the valuable time of this Court to deal with such frivolous cases. Therefore, the imposition of punitive cost is necessary,” the Court said.
Despite the rejection of several appeals, the complainant had lodged a new writ petition with related charges in content, the Bench said. “Though the dates of the complaint are different, the subject matter is again the same i.e., transactions involving three Companies namely Vidya Investment and Trading Company Pvt. Ltd., Regal Investment and Trading Company Pvt. Ltd. and Napean Trading and Investment Company Pvt. Ltd,” the Court noted.
Senior Advocates S Ganesh and CV Nagesh, speaking on behalf of Hasham Investment and Trading Firm (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Azim Premji Trust), raised a preliminary objection to the holding of the petition.
It was argued that the complainant had previously filed a PIL praying for the creation of a multi-disciplinary prosecution team to investigate and convict Premji and his associates for the crimes they allegedly committed.
Subsequently, five different writ petitions were submitted against various legislative bodies, of which three were denied by the High Court. The petitioner also appealed to the High Court of Delhi for guidance against the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which had revoked its license in 2018.
After considering the submissions, the Bench opined that the very same Bench had dismissed two petitions moved by the petitioner against Azim Premji and others. Further, a coordinate Bench of the High Court had dismissed another petition on similar grounds.
Therefore, the Bench imposed costs of Rs 10 lakh on the petitioner, which has to be paid to the Registrar General of the High Court within four weeks.