CJI Chandrachud condemns ‘forum shopping’: What is this practice?

Source: The post is based on the article “CJI Chandrachud condemns ‘forum shopping’: What is this practice?” published in the Indian Express on 25th May 2023

What is the News?

Recently, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) condemned the practice of Forum Shopping.

What is practice of forum shopping?

It refers to the practice of deliberately choosing a specific court or Judge for a legal case in the hope of getting a favourable outcome. Litigants and lawyers often consider this strategy as part of their litigation plan.

Note: “Bench Hunting” refers to petitioners managing to get their cases heard by a particular judge or bench to ensure a favourable order.

What are the disadvantages of forum shopping?

a) It can lead to injustice for the opposing party and create an imbalance in the workload of different courts and might overburden some courts over others, b) It can undermine the authority and legitimacy of courts and judges by creating perceptions of bias or favoritism, and c) It can increase the costs and complexity of litigation by creating conflicts of laws and multiple proceedings.

How various countries are discouraging forum shopping?

The US and UK courts have criticised the practice of forum shopping as something to be avoided or prohibited.

Most common law countries use the “forum non-conveniens” principle to prevent forum shopping. This gives the court discretionary powers to refuse to exercise its jurisdiction over a matter where another court, or forum, may more conveniently hear a case.

What is the Supreme Court’s view on forum shopping?

In Chetak Construction Ltd. vs. Om Prakash case, 1988, the SC held “A litigant cannot be permitted choice of the forum,” and that every attempt at forum shopping “must be crushed with a heavy hand.”

In Union of India & Ors. vs. Cipla Ltd case, 2017 the court laid down a “functional test” to be adopted for Forum Shopping. This is to determine whether a litigant is genuinely seeking justice or engaging in manipulative tactics through forum shopping.

In Vijay Kumar Ghai vs. State of W.B. case, 2022, the SC termed forum shopping as a “disreputable practice by the courts” that “has no sanction and paramountcy in law”.

In Dr. Khair-Un-Nisa and Ors vs. UT of Jammu and Kashmir and Ors case, 2023, the Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh High Court imposed penalties as petitioners indulged in forum shopping.

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