Writ Jurisdiction – Duty to Disclose all Material Facts

34. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 32 and of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is extraordinary, equitable and discretionary. Prerogative writs mentioned therein are issued for doing substantial justice. It is, therefore, of utmost necessity that the petitioner approaching the writ court must come with clean hands, put forward all the facts before the court without concealing or suppressing anything and seek an appropriate relief. If there is no candid disclosure of relevant and material facts or the petitioner is guilty of misleading the court, his petition may be dismissed at the threshold without considering the merits of the claim.

36. A prerogative remedy is not a matter of course. While exercising extraordinary power a writ court would certainly bear in mind the conduct of the party who invokes the jurisdiction of the court. If the applicant makes a false statement or suppresses material fact or attempts to mislead the court, the court may dismiss the action on that ground alone and may refuse to enter into the merits of the case by stating, “We will not listen to your application because of what you have done.” The rule has been evolved in the larger public interest to deter unscrupulous litigants from abusing the process of court by deceiving it.

38. The above principles have been accepted in our legal system also. As per settled law, the party who invokes the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 32 or of a High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution is supposed to be truthful, frank and open. He must disclose all material facts without any reservation even if they are against him. He cannot be allowed to play “hide and seek” or to “pick and choose” the facts he likes to disclose and to suppress (keep back) or not to disclose (conceal) other facts. The very basis of the writ jurisdiction rests in disclosure of true and complete (correct) facts. If material facts are suppressed or distorted, the very functioning of writ courts and exercise would become impossible. The petitioner must disclose all the facts having a bearing on the relief sought without any qualification. This is because “the court knows law but not facts”.

39. If the primary object as highlighted in Kensington Income Tax Commrs.(supra) is kept in mind, an applicant who does not come with candid facts and “clean breast” cannot hold a writ of the court with “soiled hands”. Suppression or concealment of material facts is not an advocacy. It is a jugglery, manipulation, manoeuvring or misrepresentation, which has no place in equitable and prerogative jurisdiction. If the applicant does not disclose all the material facts fairly and truly but states them in a distorted manner and misleads the court, the court has inherent power in order to protect itself and to prevent an abuse of its process to discharge the rule nisi and refuse to proceed further with the examination of the case on merits. If the court does not reject the petition on that ground, the court would be failing in its duty. In fact, such an applicant requires to be dealt with for contempt of court for abusing the process of the court.”

Supreme Court
K.D. Sharma v. Steel Authority of India Limited and Others, (2008)12 SCC 481