Order obtained by Fraud is Nullity

21. Now, it is well­ settled principle of law that if any judgment or order is obtained by fraud, it cannot be said to be a judgment or order in law. Before three centuries, Chief Justice Edward Coke proclaimed: “Fraud avoids all judicial acts, ecclesiastical or temporal.”

22. It is thus settled proposition of law that a judgment, decree or order obtained by playing fraud on the court, tribunal or authority is a nullity and non est in the eye of the law. Such a judgment, decree or order—by the first court or by the final court—has to be treated as nullity by every court, superior or inferior. It can be challenged in any court, at any time, in appeal, revision, writ or even in collateral proceedings.

23. In the leading case of Lazarus Estates Ltd. v. Beasley [(1956) 1 All ER 341 : (1956) 1 QB 702 : (1956) 2 WLR 502 (CA)] Lord Denning observed : (All ER p. 345 C) “No judgment of a court, no order of a Minister, can be allowed to stand if it has been obtained by fraud.”

24. In Duchess of Kingstone, Smith’s Leading Cases, 13th Edn., p. 644, explaining the nature of fraud, de Grey, C.J. stated that though a judgment would be res judicata and not impeachable from within, it might be impeachable from without. In other words, though it is not permissible to show that the court was “mistaken”, it might be shown that it was “misled”. There is an essential distinction between mistake and trickery. The clear implication of the distinction is that an action to set aside a judgment cannot be brought on the ground that it has been decided wrongly, namely, that on the merits, the decision was one which should not have been rendered, but it can be set aside, if the court was imposed upon or tricked into giving the judgment.

25. It has been said : fraud and justice never dwell together (fraus et jus nunquam cohabitant); or fraud and deceit ought to benefit none (fraus et dolus nemini patrocinari debent).

26. Fraud may be defined as an act of deliberate deception with the design of securing some unfair or undeserved benefit by taking undue advantage of another. In fraud one gains at the loss of another. Even most solemn proceedings stand vitiated if they are actuated by fraud. Fraud is thus an extrinsic collateral act which vitiates all judicial acts, whether in rem or in personam. The principle of “finality of litigation” cannot be stretched to the extent of an absurdity that it can be utilised as an engine of oppression by dishonest and fraudulent litigants.

Supreme Court
A.V. Papayya Sastry & Others vs Govt. of A.P. and Others, (2007) 4 SCC 221


One response to “Order obtained by Fraud is Nullity”


    # Itz useful !