Can't Direct That A Judge Should Hear Particular Number Of Cases A Day : Kerala High Court Dismisses Lawyer's Plea
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. A single bench of Justice P V Kunhikrishnan terming it a frivolous writ petition for popularity and news...
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.
A single bench of Justice P V Kunhikrishnan terming it a frivolous writ petition for popularity and news value, observed:
“Lawyers are the officers of the Court; they are part of the judiciary. If these types of litigations are filed by the lawyers, what is the message that will go to the Society? A lawyer having 21 years of practice filing a writ petition before this Court arraying a Judge of this Court and the Hon'ble Chief Justice as party and making wild allegations without any basis.”
The petitioner had taken issue with the number of matters being listed before Justice Mary Joseph in a day. The Petitioner had filed the writ petition stating that ‘The Chief Justice, being the Master of Roster, alone has the power to direct the Registry on listing of matters and no Judge can interfere with the same and direct the Registry to curtail that list’.
The petitioner had sought for a minimum of 50 matters to be listed before every court in the High Court in view of the back log of cases before it and to ensure speedy justice to litigants which is a fundamental right under Article 21 of Constitution, the petitioner has stated in his writ petition. He has also sought for “a standard criterion for listing of matters before the various courts”. As the backlog of cases increase, people will begin to lose faith in the justice system, the petitioner contends. “If every Judge of the High Court limits the number of matters before them to 20, the institution will die its natural death. Already backlog of cases has broken the back of the Judiciary and if every Judge decides to hear only 20 matters a day, then the Institution itself will not survive.”, the petitioner had stated in his plea.
The Court held that the writ petition was not maintainable and that the petitioner had sought for “strange reliefs”:
“A mere perusal of the reliefs would show that the prayers of the petitioner are mainly to issue directions regarding the manner in which the listing of cases in the High Court of Kerala is to be done. Prima facie, this prayer is not maintainable. It is a settled position that the Chief Justice of the High Court is the Master of Roster. He alone has the prerogative to constitute Benches of the Court and allocate cases to the Benches so constituted. A judicial order cannot be issued to the Chief Justice about the manner in which the cases are to be listed in the High Court of Kerala unless there are compelling reasons”
The Court observed that the Court of Justice Mary Joseph being a hearing court could not practically take up 100 matters a day like an admission court. “An admission court may have to handle more than 100 admissions and petitions. That does not mean that a Judge dealing final hearing cases should consider 100 or more than 100 cases every day” The Court stated.
“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.”
The Court also noted that as per Rule 92 of Rules of the High Court of Kerala, 1971 once the roster is fixed by the Chief Justice, the concerned judge can issue directions regarding the posting of cases assigned to him/her.
“The Chief Justice is the Master of the Roster, and the Chief Justice will allot cases to different Judges and Benches. As per Rule 92, the Bench or Judge has the discretion to issue special or general directions regarding the posting of cases assigned to him/her by the Chief Justice. There is no challenge to Rule 92 of the Rules. Therefore, even if the case of the petitioner is accepted that there is a limited number of cases posted before a particular Judge, that is the discretion of that Judge as per the Rules”
The Court observed that one of the reliefs sought by the Petitioner was for the consideration of a representation submitted by him to the Chief Justice to give direction to the Registry to list matters before Justice Mary Joseph as they are listed in other Courts. However, the Court noted that the representation of the Petitioner was dated 24.02.2023, while the Writ Petition was filed on 27.02.2023.
“The petitioner is not ready to wait for the consequential action, if any, taken by the Hon'ble Chief Justice. It is not clear whether the petitioner submitted Ext.P2 before the Hon'ble Chief Justice directly or if it was dumped in the office of the Chief Justice. After filing a representation on 24.02.2023 and filing a writ petition with the same prayer on 27.02.2023 would show that the intention of the petitioner is not to redress any grievance, but to get popularity by filing a writ petition”
The Court also stated that the language used by the petitioner in the writ petition and in his reply affidavit is unacceptable and that litigation of this type must be deprecated:
“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.
“Who is the petitioner to decide this? There is a Chief Justice to this Court to decide the roster, and the Judges are working hard to dispose of the cases. If a judge disposes of a case quickly, there will be an allegation that there is no patient hearing from persons like the petitioner. If some time is taken to hear the matter, there will be an allegation that the cases are not disposed of early from these types persons. I am sure that a prudent lawyer would not make any such allegation because they knew the difficulty of the Judges also”
Case Title: Yeshwanth Shenoy V The Chief Justice High Court of Kerala & Others
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 259