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Petition Listed After Prolonged Delay Despite Repeated Requests By Counsel; Kerala High Court Seeks Response From Registry

Hannah M Varghese
10 March 2022 5:00 AM GMT
Petition Listed After Prolonged Delay Despite Repeated Requests By Counsel; Kerala High Court Seeks Response From Registry
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The Kerala High Court on Monday directed its Registrar (Judicial) to explain why a couple of writ petitions were not listed before a Bench on time despite all the defects being cured and recurring requests from the counsel for the petitioner. A Division Bench of Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Mohammed Nias C.P sought a response from the Registry having found force in...

The Kerala High Court on Monday directed its Registrar (Judicial) to explain why a couple of writ petitions were not listed before a Bench on time despite all the defects being cured and recurring requests from the counsel for the petitioner. 

A Division Bench of Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Mohammed Nias C.P sought a response from the Registry having found force in the submission of the petitioner that such delay could be fatal to the litigant's right to access to justice.

"...we are prima facie of the view that the averments in the Contempt of Court Case call for a response from the 2nd respondent herein (Registrar (Judicial)), as to the reasons why the listing of the writ petitions filed by the petitioner was delayed." 

The petitioner had moved two writ petitions seeking constitution of an in-house committee to probe into an alleged judicial misconduct which were presented to the Registry in June 2021. The Registry detected defects in the pleas which were cured by the petitioner in two days. 

However, the petitions were not numbered or listed before the Court. One month later, the Registry entertained a doubt if the Chief Justice of this Court could be made a party to a petition. To this, the petitioner answered in the affirmative and requested that the matter be listed before a Bench.

Thereafter, the matters were listed before a Single Judge as defective and unnumbered. After a few weeks, the Registry was directed to number the petitions and to list them for admission. 

These petitions were then heard on merits and dismissed in November 2021. 

The petitioner thereby approached the Court with a contempt petition arguing that the conduct of the Registry was in absolute violation of the directions issued by this Court in Ayub Khan P.A. v. State of Kerala & Anr [W.P.(C).No.1737/2012].

Advocate Yeshwant Shenoy appearing for the petitioner questioned the propriety of the Registry in raising fresh defects periodically, after the earlier defects stood either cured or answered by him.

He further contested the propriety of the Registry holding on to the file, in which initially a defect was noted, but subsequently the said defect was either answered or cured by the respective counsel, ignoring the request of the counsel to send the matter before the Bench for consideration on merit.

Therefore, it was categorically submitted that if the directions issued in Ayub Khan [supra] are flouted by the Registry, it would lead to a delay in the hearing on merits of the petition filed by a litigant invoking Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

He argued that this would effectively infringe a litigant's right to access to justice, which is a fundamental right traceable to Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Taking note of this submission, the Court found it appropriate to seek the response of the Registry as to why there was this alleged delay when the interim order in Ayub Khan [supra] contained express directions for posting of cases before the Bench and further, a direction to the Registrar (Judicial) to circulate those instructions to the Filing Section.

The Registrar was thereby directed to file its response within three weeks.

Case Title: Mathew Z Pulikunnel v Chief Justice of India

Click Here To Read/Download The Order 

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