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"It Breaks The Back Of Litigants; Insults & Kills Justice" : Supreme Court Urges Courts To Get Out Of 'Adjournment Culture'

Ashok KM
25 Sep 2021 11:17 AM GMT
It Breaks The Back Of Litigants; Insults & Kills Justice : Supreme Court Urges Courts To Get Out Of Adjournment Culture
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The Supreme Court, in an order passed recently, urged the courts not to grant repeated adjournments in routine manner.Time has now come to change the work culture and get out of the adjournment culture so that confidence and trust put by the litigants in the Justice delivery system is not shaken and Rule of Law is maintained, Justice MR Shah and AS Bopanna observed.The court said that...

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The Supreme Court, in an order passed recently, urged the courts not to grant repeated adjournments in routine manner.

Time has now come to change the work culture and get out of the adjournment culture so that confidence and trust put by the litigants in the Justice delivery system is not shaken and Rule of Law is maintained, Justice MR Shah and AS Bopanna observed.

The court said that repeated adjournments break the back of the litigants and consequentially lose confidence in the justice delivery system. A judicial officer has to bear in mind his duties to the litigants and shall not worry about 'displeasure of bar' for not granting unnecessary adjournments, the bench remarked.

The court made these observations while considering a special leave petition which it termed as 'classic example of misuse of the adjournments granted by the court'.   In this case, the plaintiffs filed the suit for eviction, arrears of rent and mesne profit as far as back in the year 2013. The court noted that despite repeated adjournments sought and granted by the court and even twice the adjournments were granted as a last opportunity and even the cost was imposed, the defendant failed to cross examine the plaintiff's witness. Although the adequate liberty was given to the defendant to cross examine the plaintiff's witness, they never availed of the same and went on delaying the proceedings by repeated prayers of adjournment and unfortunately the Trial Court and even subsequently the High Court continued to grant adjournment after adjournment and as such contributed the delay in disposal of the suit which as such was for eviction, the court said. 

The bench made the following observations (para 5.5) in its order dismissing the SLP  filed against a High Court order which confirmed the Trial Court order closing the right to cross examine the plaintiff's witness.

Law and professional ethics do not permit such practice.

Such approach is wholly condemnable. Law and professional ethics do not permit such practice. Repeated adjournments on one or the other pretext and adopting the dilatory tactics is an insult to justice and concept of speedy disposal of cases.

Arrears are mounting because of such delay and dilatory tactics 

Today the judiciary and the justice delivery system is facing acute problem of delay which ultimately affects the right of the litigant to access to justice and the speedy trial. Arrears are mounting because of such delay and dilatory tactics and asking repeated adjournments by the advocates and mechanically and in routine manner granted by the courts.

Many a times, the task of adjournments is used to kill Justice

It cannot be disputed that due to delay in access to justice and not getting the timely justice it may shaken the trust and confidence of the litigants in the justice delivery system. Many a times, the task of adjournments is used to kill Justice. Repeated adjournments break the back of the litigants. The courts are enjoying upon to perform their duties with the object of strengthening the confidence of common man in the institution entrusted with the administration of the justice. Any effort which weakens the system and shake the faith of the common man in the justice dispensation has to be discouraged. Therefore the courts shall not grant the adjournments in routine manner and mechanically and shall not be a party to cause for delay in dispensing the justice. The courts have to be diligence and take timely action in order to usher in efficient justice dispensation system and maintain faith in rule of law.

 judicial officer has to bear in mind his duties to the litigants, shall not worry about 'displeasure of Bar'

We are also aware that whenever the trial courts refused to grant unnecessary adjournments many a times they are accused of being strict and they may face displeasure of the Bar. However, the judicial officers shall not worry about that if his conscience is clear and the judicial officer has to bear in mind his duties to the litigants who are before the courts and who have come for justice and for whom Courts are meant and all efforts shall be made by the courts to provide timely justice to the litigants.

Time has now come to change the work culture and get out of the adjournment culture 

Take an example of the present case. Suit was for eviction. Many a times the suits are filed for eviction on the ground of bonafide requirements of the landlord. If plaintiff who seeks eviction decree on the ground of personal bonafide requirement is not getting the timely justice and he ultimately gets the decree after 10 to 15 years, at times cause for getting the eviction decree on the ground of personal bonafide requirement may be defeated. The resultant effect would be that such a litigant would lose confidence in the justice delivery system and instead of filing civil suit and following the law he may adopt the other mode which has no backing of law and ultimately it affects the rule of law. Therefore, the court shall be very slow in granting adjournments and as observed hereinabove they shall not grant repeated adjournments in routine manner. Time has now come to change the work culture and get out of the adjournment culture so that confidence and trust put by the litigants in the Justice delivery system is not shaken and Rule of Law is maintained.

 The judgment also quotes observations made in decisions viz. Babu Singh v. State of U.P. (1978) 1 SCC 579 , Shiv Cotex v. Tirgun Auto Plast (P) Ltd. (2011) 9 SCC 678 ; Noor Mohammed v. Jethanand  (2013) 5 SCC 202

Citation: LL 2021 SC 500

Case: Ishwarlal Mali Rathod vs. Gopal

Case no. | Date: SLP(C) 14117­-14118 OF 2021 | 20 September 2021

Coram: Justice MR Shah and AS Bopanna


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