'Final Hearing Might Take Days' : Kerala High Court Says Judge's Productivity Can't Be Measured Based On Number Of Cases Listed Daily
The Kerala High Court on Friday dismissed the petition filed by Adv. Yeshwanth Shenoy alleging that a sitting judge has limited the number of cases listed before the bench to only 20 matters a day, terming it a 'Publicity Interested litigation' to malign judges and the judiciary.The lawyer had moved the Court alleging that Justice Mary Joseph was limiting the list of cases before her Court....
The Kerala High Court on Friday dismissed the petition filed by Adv. Yeshwanth Shenoy alleging that a sitting judge has limited the number of cases listed before the bench to only 20 matters a day, terming it a 'Publicity Interested litigation' to malign judges and the judiciary.
The lawyer had moved the Court alleging that Justice Mary Joseph was limiting the list of cases before her Court. The Chief Justice, being the Master of Roster, Justice Joseph had no power to direct the Registry to curtail the list, the Petitioner contended.
A Single bench of Justice P V Kunhikrishnan observed that the Court of Justice Mary Joseph being a hearing court cannot be compared to that of an admission court:
“A hearing matter cannot be disposed of like an admission matter. The admission court and the hearing court are entirely different. Sometimes, a hearing of an appeal will take a full day or days. That does not mean that the Judge is not doing his duty. “
An admission court may be handling more than 100 admissions a day but that does not mean a Judge considering hearings can consider 100 cases a day, the Court observed. The first appeal in criminal and civil matters being a continuation of the trial is bound to take time, the Court noted. Second appeal in civil matters and criminal revisions against conviction and sentence after an appeal is dismissed by the appellate Court will also take time to dispose of, the Court further observed.
“If lawyers started to file writ petitions like this, stating that one Judge is hearing only one case and the other Judge is taking up 10 cases, and yet another Judge is taking up 50 cases or 100 cases, the same would give a wrong signal to society. The lawyers are the officers of the Court. They know how this Court is hearing an admission matter, how this Court is hearing a petition matter and how this Court is dealing with a final hearing matter. There cannot be any straight jacket formula to dispose of a case. Each case has to be decided based on its merit.”
The Court also pointed out that the Petitioner while arguing the matter had repeatedly pointed out the display board to show that the Court of Justice Mary Joseph was still considering item number 2 while the Court hearing his petitioner had almost completed its list. “I am surprised to hear such an argument from a lawyer who claims that he has got 21 years of practice. Admittedly Court No.2D is a hearing court. It may take some time to complete the hearing of first appeals in old matters” the Court observed.
“When a Judge is dealing with a case, he is dealing with the life of a citizen of this country. It may take some time. It should take some time. Moreover, some of the Judges may read the papers without jumping to any conclusions, before coming to the Court, so that the narration of the facts of the case by the lawyer can be skipped. But some other Judges believe that the facts should come from the mouth of the lawyer itself. These are different attitudes of judges, and there is nothing wrong with taking such a stand by the Judges. “
The petitioner had stated while arguing Judges should bear in mind the oath taken by them while deciding cases. “This need not be reminded by the petitioner because every Judge is dealing with cases by bearing in mind the oath of office taken by the Judge.” The Court stated.
The Petitioner had relied on a Facebook post by the former President of Kerala High Court Association, Adv.Rajesh Vijayan, to show that Justice Mary Joseph had directed to limit her list to only 20 cases per day. Criticising the Petitioner for relying on a facebook post instead of producing specific evidence or documents, observed:
“Nowadays, posting on Facebook contains sarcasm, jokes and some spontaneous reactions. The Facebook post of an individual cannot be accepted as evidence by this Court to conclude that a learned Judge of this Court directed to list only 20 cases per day, especially when the person who made the Facebook post is not a party in this writ petition. Unless that person vouches for the Facebook post, this Court cannot accept such Facebook post to conclude that a learned Judge directed the registry to post only 20 cases before that Court. I am sure that no Judge will do that.”
The Court also stated that being a practicing lawyer of 21 years, Shenoy should have redressed his grievance before the concerned judge or the Chief Justice or by approaching the High Court Advocates Association or the Senior Advocates Association. Instead, the Petitioner has filed the writ petition based on a Facebook post to ‘get popularity and news value’ the Court observed.
“I can understand that, if an ordinary citizen files this case, because he may not know the listing procedure of cases in this court. But here is a case where a lawyer is coming up with these types of cases with wild allegations against a judge. Once again I am asking, what is the message that the petitioner wants to give to society? Judges and lawyers are part of the Judiciary. If there are any internal problems, there are facilities to redress such issues.”
The Court criticised the Petitioner for making wild unsubstantiated allegations against a Judge and stated that it was a fit case for imposing heavy costs. However, since the matter had not been admitted, the Court refrained from doing so.
Case Title: Yeshwanth Shenoy V The Chief Justice High Court of Kerala & Others
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 259