The High Court of Delhi recently rapped an additional district judge of Delhi for setting aside a final judgment in execution proceedings, terming it being “against all canons of law and justice”.
Observing that the ADJ had demonstrated a “complete lack of knowledge of basics of law”, Justice Valmiki J Mehta wrote, “I am not only perturbed and disturbed by the impugned judgment dated 22.1.2016, but this Court would like to go on to observe that if courts pass judgments such as the impugned judgment, then there will result a rule of jungle and not the rule of law.”
Justice Mehta further directed that a copy of the judgment be sent to the Acting Chief Justice, to bring to her notice the conduct of the judicial officer. The judgment was also directed to be sent to the inspecting judges’ committee of the judicial officer for 2016, requesting it to consider not only the illegality in passing the judgment, but also take note of the strong observations made by the high court.
The matter before the court pertained to an appeal filed by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) against the judgment passed by the additional district judge.
The DTC had won a suit against Vidya Mandir Classes in 2012, for illegally displaying its ads on a bus queue shelter owned by the corporation.
The Classes, however, moved the court, refusing to execute the decree on the ground that the decree was passed against M/s Vidya Mandir Classes, whereas the objector was M/s Vidya Mandir Classes Ltd.
At this junction, while the ADJ only had the authority to decide whether the 2012 judgment could be executed against the objector or not, transgressed his powers and set aside the judgment.
The court noted that the ADJ could not have applied Order XLI Rule 33 CPC for the reason of it being an appellate court in execution proceedings to set aside a final decree passed in the suit.
Shunning the reasoning provided by the ADJ, the high court opined, “Observations by the first appellate court in the impugned judgment that it cannot remain as a mute spectator and shut its eyes to illegality is only an apology for acting beyond any and every principle of law known in this country and with which the first appellate court was undoubtedly bound by.”
It further noted that the 2012 judgment had become final once the application under Order IX Rule 13 of CPC (application for setting aside ex parte decree) was dismissed.
“Once a judgment and decree is final, an executing court has no power under any provision of law not only to not go behind the decree much less have any power to set aside a judgment and decree which has achieved finality,” it therefore ruled.
Read the Judgment here.