Fraudulent Decrees

It is a settled proposition of law that a decree obtained by playing fraud on the Court is a nullity and that such a decree could be challenged at any time in any proceedings. This proposition is certainly not in dispute.

Learned counsel also placed reliance on Union of India v. Ramesh Gandhi, (2012) 1 SCC 476 which reads as under:-

If a judgment obtained by playing fraud on the Court is a nullity and is to be treated as non est by every Court, superior or inferior, it would be strange logic to hear that an enquiry into the question whether a judgment was secured by playing fraud on the Court by not disclosing the necessary facts relevant for the adjudication of the controversy before the Court is impermissible… it is clear that such an examination is permissible. Such a principle is required to be applied with greater emphasis in the realm of public law jurisdiction as the mischief resulting from such fraud has a larger dimension affecting the larger public interest.

We agree that when there is an allegation of fraud by non-disclosure of necessary and relevant facts or concealment of material facts, it must be inquired into. It is only after evidence is led coupled with intent to deceive that a conclusion of fraud could be arrived at. A mere concealment or non-disclosure without intent to deceive or a bald allegation of fraud without proof and intent to deceive would not render a decree obtained by a party as fraudulent. To conclude in a blanket manner that in every case where relevant facts are not disclosed, the decree obtained would be fraudulent, is stretching the principle to a vanishing point.

What is fraud has been adequately discussed in Meghmala, (2010) 8 SCC 383. Unfortunately, this decision does not refer to earlier decisions where also there is an equally elaborate discussion on fraud. These two decisions are Bhaurao, (2005) 7 SCC 605 and Harapriya Bisoi, 2009) 12 SCC 378. In view of the elaborate discussion in these and several other cases which have been referred to in these decisions, it is clear that fraud has a definite meaning in law and it must be proved and not merely alleged and inferred.”

Hon’ble Justice Madan B. Lokur, Harjas Rai v. Pushparani Jain, [Civil Appeal 11491 of 2016].

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