Friday, March 9, 2007

A vexatious litigant.

Some people are habitual litigators. One step ahead of them is the vexatious litigants. It is a kind of mental condition. The all time world record holder in the field could very well have been Luka Chettan (name changed to protect identity) of a village near mine. I remember the man clearly.

Luka Chettan inherited a good house and sufficient land to live comfortably. When he was married, the bride came with a fair sum as dowry and a reasonable quantity of gold ornaments. In due course they had a daughter, but were not blessed with any more children.

Luka Chettan had only one weakness – litigation. For some reason he found great thrill in it. He liked court cases and loved to hear arguments by lawyers. Along the way he picked up some knowledge of law and a bit of expertise in conducting cases. Then, he himself became a litigant and started filing court cases with or without valid reasons. He might have won a few of them but lost many, along with a good portion of his wealth. Well wishers advised him to stop the costly pastime. The man paid no heed and carried on like a lottery addict, hoping that he would win the next one.

In the mean time, his daughter was married to a well-to-do college lecturer who demanded no dowry. Now Luka Chettan continued to pursue his hobby without any restraint. As the number of lost cases increased, his assets decreased. Finally he was left with the house and one and a half acres of land around it.

Luka Chettan slowed down. One day he went to the local document writer and wanted to register a deed gifting his remaining properties to his daughter and son-in-law. The document writer explained that after Luka Chettan’s time, his daughter would inherit the properties anyway, and therefore spending money on the procedure would be a waste. But Luka Chettan had an answer to that. If the land and house continued to be in his name, he might be tempted to sell them and spend more money on litigation. This convinced the document writer and the registration was done. Everybody in the locality was happy.

While executing a gift deed, the beneficiaries don’t have to be informed. Luka Chettan’s daughter and her husband probably came to know about the gift only when they received a lawyer notice on a case filed by Luka Chettan against them. The allegation was that they got him drunk and made him sign the document when he was in an inebriated condition.

Before the case progressed further, Luka Chettan passed on to the world where there are no cases and arguments, but only judgments.


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