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Right To Lead Evidence Pivotal To Fair Trial, Court Should Not Be Hyper Technical In Granting Opportunity: Delhi High Court

Nupur Thapliyal
30 April 2022 4:27 AM GMT
Right To Lead Evidence Pivotal To Fair Trial, Court Should Not Be Hyper Technical In Granting Opportunity: Delhi High Court
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Observing that the right to lead evidence is pivotal to a fair trial and partakes of the character of natural justice and fair play, the Delhi High Court has said that the Court should not be hyper-technical, in the matter of granting opportunity to lead evidence and the like.Justice C Hari Shankar observed thus:"The right to lead evidence is pivotal to a fair trial and partakes of the...

Observing that the right to lead evidence is pivotal to a fair trial and partakes of the character of natural justice and fair play, the Delhi High Court has said that the Court should not be hyper-technical, in the matter of granting opportunity to lead evidence and the like.

Justice C Hari Shankar observed thus:

"The right to lead evidence is pivotal to a fair trial and partakes of the character of natural justice and fair play. No doubt, where a party is unconscionably indolent, the Court may put its foot down and close the right of the party to lead evidence; else, as adversarial litigations are meant to be tried after allowing the parties to an adequate opportunity to place their respective stands on record, the Court should not be hyper-technical, in the matter of granting opportunity to lead evidence and the like."

The Court was dealing with a plea challenging an order dated 16th November, 2021 passed by the Civil Judge whereby the right of the petitioner to lead his evidence, as the defendant in the civil suit was closed.

The petitioner had moved an application under sec. 151 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 for modification of the order dated 16th November, 2021, and for permitting the filing of defence evidence. That application was dismissed vide order dated 05th January, 2022. A further application, seeking review of the order dated 05th January, 2022, was also dismissed by the civil judge vide order dated 11th March, 2022.

Therefore, a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India was filed in the High Court challenging all the three orders.

The Court noted that before 22nd April, 2020, being the date by which defence evidence was to be led by the petitioner as per the order dated 27th February, 2020, the COVID-2019 pandemic had already struck and the working of the Courts were in a state of limbo.

"If one were to exclude the period lost in the COVID-2019 pandemic, as the learned CJ has himself condescended to do, the first date when the Court functioned physically was, therefore, 25th September, 2021. That being the ground position, without dwelling any further into the aspect of negligence or the issue of whether the petitioner could have been more vigilant, I am of the opinion that the learned CJ ought to have granted one more opportunity to the petitioner to lead defence evidence," the Court said.

The Court was of the opinion that one more opportunity ought to be granted to the petitioner. Accordingly, the Court quashed the impugned orders to the extent that they closed the petitioner's right to lead defence evidence.

"Learned Counsel for the petitioner, is, therefore, granted ten days and no more to file affidavit of evidence of its defence witnesses, and to produce the defence witnesses for cross-examination and further proceedings before the learned CJ on 5th May, 2022, when the matter is listed next. No adjournment shall be granted to the petitioner on any account whatsoever. It would be the responsibility of the petitioner to have the defence witnesses ready for cross-examination on the said date," the Court directed.

Accordingly, the plea was disposed of.

Case Title: DEEPAK v. RAMESH SETHI

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 381

Click Here To Read Order 


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