24th May, 2023 POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
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Context: Recently the term ‘forum shopping’ was frequently mentioned in the news after the Chief Justice of India mentioned the term in the court.
- “Forum shopping” is a term that describes the strategy of some litigants or lawyers who try to find the most favourable court or judge for their case.
- They do this by looking at various factors, such as the reputation, law, or procedure of the court or judge, and the likelihood of getting a positive outcome.
- This practice undermines the integrity and impartiality of the judicial system, as well as the principle of equality before the law.
- It can also lead to wastage of judicial resources, delay in justice delivery, and inconsistency in legal precedents.
Forum shopping can take various forms, such as:
- Filing multiple lawsuits in different courts on the same or similar issues, hoping that one of them will grant the desired relief.
- Choosing a court or a jurisdiction that has a more lenient or favourable substantive or procedural law for the case.
- Seeking to transfer or remove a case from one court to another for strategic reasons.
- Influencing or bribing judges or court officials to assign a case to a particular judge or bench.
Some of the challenges posed by forum shopping are:
- It creates uncertainty and confusion among litigants and lawyers about the proper jurisdiction and venue for their cases.
- It erodes public confidence and trust in the judiciary, as it creates an impression that justice is not based on merit but on manipulation.
- Wasting time and resources of the courts and the litigants by causing duplication, delay and confusion.
- Creating conflicting or inconsistent judgments on the same or similar issues, leading to legal uncertainty and chaos.
- Eroding the credibility and impartiality of the judiciary, as well as the trust and respect of the public and the legal profession.
- Encouraging forum shopping by other litigants or lawyers creates a vicious cycle of abuse and corruption.
Some of the possible ways to address forum shopping are:
- Establishing clear and uniform rules and criteria for jurisdiction, venue and transfer of cases, and applying them strictly and consistently.
- Enhancing the transparency and accountability of the judicial process, such as by publishing judgments and orders online, disclosing reasons for assigning cases to judges, and conducting random audits and inspections.
- Imposing sanctions and penalties for forum shopping and related misconduct, such as by dismissing frivolous or vexatious lawsuits, awarding costs and damages to the aggrieved parties, and disciplining or prosecuting unethical or corrupt lawyers or judges.
- Educating and sensitizing litigants, lawyers, and judges about the ethical and legal implications of forum shopping, and promoting a culture of respect for the rule of law and judicial independence.
- Developing a system of coordination and cooperation among courts and judges, to avoid duplication or overlap of cases, and to ensure harmony and coherence in legal doctrine.
- Forum shopping is a serious challenge that threatens the quality and legitimacy of justice delivery. It requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders to address it effectively and efficiently. By doing so, we can ensure that justice is not only done but also seen to be done.
Q. Recently the term ‘forum shopping’ was frequently mentioned in the news. It is related with;