It is settled proposition of law that where an applicant gets an order/office by making misrepresentation or playing fraud upon the competent Authority, such order cannot be sustained in the eyes of law. “Fraud avoids all judicial acts ecclesiastical or temporal.” (Vide S.P. Chengalvaraya Naidu (dead) by L.Rs. v. Jagannath (dead) by L.Rs. and Ors., AIR 1994 SC 853). In Lazarus Estate Ltd. v. Besalay 1956 All. E.R. 349, the Court observed without equivocation that “no judgment of a Court, no order of a Minister can be allowed to stand if it has been obtained by fraud, for fraud unravels everything.”
In Andhra Pradesh State Financial Corporation v. GAR Re-Rolling Mills and Anr., AIR 1994 SC 2151 and State of Maharashtra and Ors. v. Prabhu, (1994) 2 SCC 481. this Court observed that a writ Court, while exercising its equitable jurisdiction, should not act as to prevent perpetration of a legal fraud as the courts are obliged to do justice by promotion of good faith. “Equity is, also, known to prevent the law from the crafty evasions and sub-letties invented to evade law.”
In Smt. Shrisht Dhawan v. Shaw Brothers., AIR 1992 SC 1555, it has been held as under:
Fraud and collusion vitiate even the most solemn proceedings in any civilised system of jurisprudence. It is a concept descriptive of human conduct.
In United India Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Rajendra Singh and Ors., AIR 2000 SC 1165, this Court observed that “Fraud and justice never dwell together” (fraus et jus nunquam cohabitant) and it is a pristine maxim which has never lost its temper over all these centuries.
The ratio laid down by this Court in various cases is that dishonesty should not be permitted to bear the fruit and benefit to the persons who played fraud or made misrepresentation and in such circumstances the Court should not perpetuate the fraud. (See District Collector & Chairman, Vizianagaram Social Welfare Residential School Society, Vizianagaram and Anr. v. M. Tripura Sundari Devi, (1990) 3 SCC 655; Union of India and Ors. v. M. Bhaskaran, (1995) 4 Suppl. SCC 100; Vice Chairman, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and Anr. v. Girdharilal Yadav : (2004) 6 SCC 325; State of Maharashtra v. Ravi Prakash Babulalsing Parmar, (2007) 1 SCC 80; Himadri Chemicals Industries Ltd. v. Coal Tar Refining Company, AIR 2007 SC 2798; and Mohammed Ibrahim and Ors. v. State of Bihar and Anr., (2009) 8 SCC 751.
Fraud is an intrinsic, collateral act, and fraud of an egregious nature would vitiate the most solemn proceedings of courts of justice. Fraud is an act of deliberate deception with a design to secure something, which is otherwise not due. The expression “fraud” involves two elements, deceit and injury to the person deceived. It is a cheating intended to get an advantage. (Vide Dr. Vimla v. Delhi Administration, AIR 1963 SC 1572; Indian Bank v. Satyam Fibres (India) Pvt. Ltd., (1996) 5 SCC 550; State of Andhra Pradesh v. T. Suryachandra Rao, AIR 2005 SC 3110; K.D. Sharma v. Steel Authority of India Ltd. and Ors., (2008) 12 SCC 481; and Regional Manager, Central Bank of India v. Madhulika Guruprasad Dahir and Ors., (2008) 13 SCC 170).
An act of fraud on court is always viewed seriously. A collusion or conspiracy with a view to deprive the rights of the others in relation to a property would render the transaction void ab initio. Fraud and deception are synonymous. Although in a given case a deception may not amount to fraud, fraud is anathema to all equitable principles and any affair tainted with fraud cannot be perpetuated or saved by the application of any equitable doctrine including res judicata. Fraud is proved when it is shown that a false representation has been made (i) knowingly, or (ii) without belief in its truth, or (iii) recklessly, careless whether it be true or false. Suppression of a material document would also amount to a fraud on the court. (Vide S.P. Changalvaraya Naidu (supra); Gowrishankar and Anr. v. Joshi Amba Shankar Family Trust and Ors., AIR 1996 SC 2202; Ram Chandra Singh v. Savitri Devi and Ors. (2003) 8 SCC 319; Roshan Deen v. Preeti Lal, AIR 2002 SC 33; Ram Preeti Yadav v. U.P. Board of High School & Intermediate Education AIR 2003 SC 4628 and Ashok Leyland Ltd. v. State of Tamil Nadu and Anr. AIR 2004 SC 2836).
In kinch v. Walcott (1929) AC 482, it has been held that “…mere constructive fraud is not, at all events after long delay, sufficient but such a judgment will not be set aside upon mere proof that the judgment was obtained y perjury.”
Thus, detection/discovery of constructive fraud at a much belated stage may not be sufficient to set aside the judgment procured by perjury.
From the above, it is evident that even in judicial proceedings, once a fraud is proved, all advantages gained by playing fraud can be taken away. In such an eventuality the questions of non-executing of the statutory remedies or statutory bars like doctrine of res judicata are not attracted. Suppression of any material fact/document amounts to a fraud on the court. Every court has an inherent power to recall its own order obtained by fraud as the order so obtained is non est.