Change Lawyer If Case Is Not Being Attended Properly: SC's Message To Litigants [Read Judgment]

Change Lawyer If Case Is Not Being Attended Properly: SC

"If the appellants noticed that their lawyer was not taking interest in attending to the brief in question, then they should have immediately engaged some other lawyer to ensure that the appeal be filed in time by another lawyer."

The Supreme Court, in a judgment delivered on Tuesday, has given a subtle message to litigants who usually blame their lawyers, rightly or wrongly, for getting adverse orders from courts on technical grounds like delay, which could have been avoided, if they were vigilant enough.

The appellant before the Apex court was Haryana Urban Development Authority. They were aggrieved of a Punjab and Haryana High Court order which had dismissed their second appeal filed by them by refusing to condone a delay of 1942 days, i.e about four and a half years.

Agreeing with the High Court view, the bench comprising Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari observed that the ground taken in the application seeking condonation of delay that their lawyer did not take timely steps, cannot be regarded as a sufficient cause within the meaning of Section 5 of the Limitation Act. The court said:

"In our view, it was equally the duty of the appellants (their legal managers) to see that the appeal be filed in time. If the appellants noticed that their lawyer was not taking interest in attending to the brief in question, then they should have immediately engaged some other lawyer to ensure that the appeal be filed in time by another lawyer."

The court also observed that HUDA, their officers, who were in-charge of the legal cell failed to discharge their duty assigned to them promptly and with due diligence despite availability of all facilities and infrastructure. Dismissing the Appeals, the bench observed:

"In such circumstances, the officers-in-charge of the case should be made answerable for the lapse on their part and make good the loss suffered by the appellants.. A delay of 1942 days (4 years 6 months), in our view, is wholly inordinate and the cause pleaded for its condonation is equally unexplained by the appellants. In any case, the explanation given does not constitute a sufficient cause within the meaning of Section 5 of the Limitation Act. "

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