Criminalizing civil disputes

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Questionable litigation strategies are tearing at the fabric of India’s justice delivery apparatus, argues PM Devaiah of Everstone Capital

In jurisprudence, jurisdiction is not only infallible but also undeniable. Exploiting loopholes to bypass a statutory jurisdiction and seek out an inappropriate but convenient jurisdiction is dubious.

PM Devaiah
PM Devaiah

A recent epidemic of painting complaints in the commercial arena as acts of criminality, and thereby invoking the jurisdiction of criminal courts in civil disputes, has to be recognized for what it is: a coercive measure to blackmail and extract relief. Yet it is appalling that neither the courts nor the law enforcement agencies see it this way.

A summons issued recently to a senior executive of Samsung by a Ghaziabad court, the arrest of Amway India CEO William Scott Pinckney in Andhra Pradesh, the arrest of Thiess India CEO Raman Srikanth, even while an international arbitration was underway, are all cases in point. Deceitful litigation strategies adopted with the aid of Machiavellian legal counsel have no place in a jurisdiction where there is the rule of law and it’s time such practices are curbed with an iron hand.

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PM Devaiah is a partner and general counsel with Everstone Capital. The opinions and views expressed in this article are personal.