Supreme Court on Concealment of Material Facts

Supreme Court on Suppression of Material Facts

1. Introduction

Concealment or Suppression of material fact has far reaching consequences. Before we delve any further let’s begin with the basics.

What are material facts? Why material facts should not be concealed? What are the implications of concealment of material facts? How do courts ensure that litigants come with clean hands to Court when seeking justice?

  • What are material facts?
  • Why material facts should not be concealed?
  • Deliberate concealment amounts to playing fraud on Court
  • Concealment of material facts is not an Advocacy
  • Court can impose exemplary Cost on party found concealing material facts
  • Court to dismiss the Petition without entering into its merits
  • Non-disclosure of past and present litigation amounts to suppression of material facts
  • Recourse to multiple legal proceedings by concealing material facts is abuse of the process of law
  • Mandatory statements to be stated in pleadings

2. What are material facts?

Any important information that may affect a decision in a court of law or in other words any fact which is relevant to the court’s decision is a material fact.

The material facts required to be stated are those facts which can be considered as materials supporting the allegations made. In other words they must be such facts as to afford a basis for the allegations made in the petition.[1]

3. Why material facts should not be concealed?

All material facts must be pleaded by the applicant when making a claim as a petitioner or in their defence as a respondent. It is only on complete and truthful disclosure of facts by the Petitioner that a Respondent would know what claim is being made against him, what case is set up against him, what is he required to respond to and what plea must he take in defence. Likewise, the Respondent is also expected to come clean with all material facts in their response to the claim.

Additionally, in the absence of pleading a party cannot be allowed to lead evidence.

But most of all, the parties must disclose all material facts to apprise the Court of complete details about the case, simply because Courts know the law but they don’t know the facts of the case. It is the bounden duty of the litigants and their Counsels to state fully and fairly the facts of the matter.

Needless to say, concealment or suppression of material facts is always looked down upon by Courts as it only shows that litigants are trying to gain easy access to justice delivery system by adopting unethical means.

Suppression of material facts amounts to misrepresentation and fraud.

4. Deliberate concealment amounts to playing fraud on Court

Before invoking the jurisdiction of Courts for resolution of disputes it is expected that a Petitioner would approach the Court with clean hands and put forward all facts before the Court without concealing or suppressing anything.

A litigant is bound to state all facts which are relevant to the litigation. If he withholds some vital or relevant material in order to gain advantage over the other side then he would be guilty of playing fraud with the Court as well as with the opposite parties. [2]

5. Concealment of material facts is not an Advocacy

Concealment or suppression of material facts is not an Advocacy. It is jugglery, manipulation, maneuvering, misrepresentation. Indulging in same amounts to abusing the process of law by deceiving the Court. [3]

6. Court can impose exemplary Cost on party found concealing material facts

While dealing with frivolous and groundless filing, Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Dnyandeo Sabaji Naik Vs. Pradnya Prakash Khadekar, (2017) 5 SCC 496 (Para-14), observed as under:

This tendency can be curbed only if courts across the system adopt an institutional approach which penalizes such behavior. Liberal access to justice does not mean access to chaos and indiscipline. A strong message must be conveyed that courts of justice will not be allowed to be disrupted by litigative strategies designed to profit from the delays of the law. Unless remedial action is taken by all courts here and now our society will breed a legal culture based on evasion instead of abidance. It is the duty of every court to firmly deal with such situations. The imposition of exemplary costs is a necessary instrument which has to be deployed to weed out, as well as to prevent the filing of frivolous cases. It is only then that the courts can set apart time to resolve genuine causes and answer the concerns of those who are in need of justice. Imposition of real time costs is also necessary to ensure that access to courts is available to citizens with genuine grievances. Otherwise, the doors would be shut to legitimate causes simply by the weight of undeserving cases which flood the system. Such a situation cannot be allowed to come to pass. Hence it is not merely a matter of discretion but a duty and obligation cast upon all courts to ensure that the legal system is not exploited by those who use the forms of the law to defeat or delay justice. We commend all courts to deal with frivolous filings in the same manner.

7. Court to dismiss the Petition without entering into its merits

Failure to disclose even one material fact can lead to dismissal of the petition or the suit.

Party approaching the Court must place all the facts before the Court without any reservation. If there is suppression of material facts on the part of the applicant or twisted facts have been placed before the Court, the Court may refuse to entertain the petition and dismiss it without entering into merits of the matter. [4]

8. Non-disclosure of past and present litigation amounts to suppression of material facts

The parties have to disclose the details of all legal proceedings and litigations either past or present concerning any part of the subject-matter of dispute which is within their knowledge.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Udyami Evam Khadi Gramodyog Welfare Sanstha and Another vs State of Uttar Pradesh and Others observed –

In order to check multiplicity of proceedings pertaining to the same subject-matter and more importantly to stop the menace of soliciting inconsistent orders through different judicial forums by suppressing material facts either by remaining silent or by making misleading statements in the pleadings in order to escape the liability of making a false statement, we are of the view that the parties have to disclose the details of all legal proceedings and litigations either past or present concerning any part of the subject-matter of dispute which is within their knowledge.

9. Recourse to multiple legal proceedings by concealing facts is abuse of the process of law

In Udyami Evam Khadi Gramodyog (supra), the Apex Court further said-

A writ remedy is an equitable one. A person approaching a superior court must come with a pair of clean hands. It not only should not suppress any material fact, but also should not take recourse to the legal proceedings over and over again which amounts to abuse of the process of law.

10. Mandatory to state in Pleadings

In case, according to the parties to the dispute, no legal proceedings or court litigations was or is pending, they have to mandatorily state so in their pleadings in order to resolve the dispute between the parties in accordance with law. [5]

11. References

[1] Jitendra Bahadur Singh v. Krishna Behari (1969) 2 SCC 433
[2] Shri K. Jayaram & Ors vs Bangalore Development Authority & Ors C.A. No.7550-7553/2021
[3] K.D. Sharma vs. Steel Authority of India and others [(2008) 12 SCC 481
[4] Prestige Lights Ltd. vs State Bank of India (2007) 8 SCC 449
[5] Shri K. Jayaram & Ors vs Bangalore Development Authority & Ors C.A. No.7550-7553/2021

12. Know more

Comments

2 responses to “Supreme Court on Concealment of Material Facts”

  1. Sushil Kumar Sharma

    My writ petion was dismissed in 1996 . The Respondents suppressing the facts and make fraud in this Writ petion. At that time I was not in possession of the documents which were under custody of the Respondents. Now I obtained.
    1. Can I fie a case for recall that order.
    2. Cane I file a case for false evidence and forged document presented by Respondent.
    3. Can I take up all these case in an department Appeal now on the basis of New cause of action.
    4. Can I file an application for contempt of court against Respondents.
    5. What is the time limitation in case of fraud in service matter.

  2. Shyam Borawake

    What action can an Arbitrator take on suppressing of material facts by the respondent party?

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