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'Sorry State Of Affair': Jharkhand High Court Pulls Up Registry For Over 3 Months Delay In Registering Case

Srishti Ojha
26 July 2021 9:20 AM GMT
Sorry State Of Affair: Jharkhand High Court Pulls Up Registry For Over 3 Months Delay In Registering Case
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The Jharkhand High Court on Thursday criticized the Registry and Judicial Sections of the High Court for over 3 months' delay in registering and stamp reporting a case.While noting that the case, which was filed on 7th April got registered after 36 days and is yet to be stamp reported, Justice Ananda Sen stated that even if the Office and the Judicial Sections are functioning with 50% of...

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The Jharkhand High Court on Thursday criticized the Registry and Judicial Sections of the High Court for over 3 months' delay in registering and stamp reporting a case.

While noting that the case, which was filed on 7th April got registered after 36 days and is yet to be stamp reported, Justice Ananda Sen stated that even if the Office and the Judicial Sections are functioning with 50% of its strength, then also it should not take 36 days to register a case.

"This Court cannot conceive a situation, where in a High Court it will take 36 days to register a case. It is also not palatable that even after 70 days of registering a case, no stamp reporting will be done in that case, and the file will gather dust," the Bench remarked.

While making scathing remarks against the Registry, the Bench also stated that the Registry should issue appropriate orders to the Sections to get a case registered immediately when the same is filed and get those cases stamp reported without any delay. If more support staffs are necessary, same should be provided for, in each Section on the Judicial Side.

Saying that it is high time that the Registry of the Court addresses this issue which is of importance, the Bench has asked the Registrar General to conduct an enquiry about the reasons of delay in registering the present case and also as to why till date the case has not been stamp reported. Further, Registrar General has been asked to enquire about the average time which is taken to register a case from the date of filing and the average time, which is taken from the date of filing till stamp reporting.

The Bench also asked the Registrar General to inform it about the maximum and minimum time, which had been taken by the Sections for undertaking the aforesaid exercise in respect of each particular nature of case.

Delay of this magnitude is unacceptable: HC

"Working with 50% strength may cause some delay, but, a delay of this magnitude is not acceptable," the Bench remarked

While stressing on the fact the the concerned section 'woke up from the slumber' only after the Court directed court master to furnish the case status, the Bench observed that the act prima facie suggests that how with lethargic approach the Section and the Registry has worked.

The Bench found it surprising that even though the concerned officer joined the office on 31st May after recovering from Covid-19, the requisition was sent for by the CMP Section to call for the connected record only on 22nd July which is an 'abnormal delay'.

High Court is known and recognized by the work done in the judicial side: HC

The Bench observed that the "Judicial Sections and the Officers placed in the hierarchy must take some responsibility. There are Joint Registrars, Assistant Registrars to supervise the Sections. This action suggests absolute failure of supervisory role by the higher officers. Shortage of staff cannot be an excuse or issue. Even if it is an issue, it is for the Registry to address the same."

While stating that a High Court is known and recognised by the work done in the judicial side, the Bench observed that the Sections should be revamped with suitable persons placed at the correct places and adequate and efficient Officers and staff should be brought in to deal with the Judicial Files.

"Officers and staff placed in the Judicial side needs utmost professionalism and efficiency, which I feel, is somewhat lacking. If the Registry feels that there is deterioration in efficiency, there are ways and means to improve the same. If some are beyond improvement and have become dead woods, there are provisions in the Jharkhand Service Code, which can very well be invoked against them," the Bench noted.

While stressing on the fact that lack of proper supervision is one of the reasons giving rise to this type of laches, the Bench opined that the litigants cannot be made to suffer because of these avoidable situations. According to the Bench, this was one case, which was brought to their notice but they are unaware as to whether there are other similar type of cases or not.

Background

In the present case, a miscellaneous appeal was dismissed for default by a Coordinate Bench, which not being available anymore made a Bench of Justice Ananda Sen the appropriate Bench to hear the appeal.

The Counsel for the petitioner made a mention to list the Petition and submitted that though he had filed this Civil Miscellaneous Petition in April, 2021, yet till date, the Stamp Reporting of this Civil Miscellaneous Petition has not been done.

The Counsel's submission raised some doubt in the mind of the Court which directed the Court Master to verify the same. The Court was informed that the case was filed on 7th April 2022, but was registered on 13th May, after 36 days and the Stamp Reporting was yet to be done.

The Bench, considering the information supplied by my Court Master, directed the Officers of the Registry and the concerned Section to appear through Video Conferencing and explain the cause of delay. The Stamp Reporting Section submitted that a file has to reach to their Section from CMP Section, then only they can start the process of stamp reporting. They submitted that they have till date not received this file for stamp reporting, from CMP Section.

The Assistant Registrar of CMP Section submitted before the Court that there are only two persons, who look after the CMP cases. He submitted that one of them got affected from Covid 19 and only on 31st May, he resumed his duty. As per him, by virtue of an administrative order of this High Court, the Sections are working with 50% of capacity, thus, the concerned Assistant, in view of the said administrative order, is working every alternate day.

The Assistant Registrar further submitted before the Court that for stamp reporting of a Civil Miscellaneous Petition connected file of Miscellaneous Appeal has to be called for, from the concerned Section before sending the file for Stamp Reporting. He also submitted that there is shortage of staffs in the Section.

Case Title: Mundrika Devi v. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Co. Limited & Ors.

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