Saturday, December 3, 2022

Allahabad High Court says court work shouldn’t be held up due to bar elections

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The Allahabad High Court has observed the work of a Court cannot be brought to a grinding halt on account of the holding of elections of a registered society while dismissing a petition.

A single bench of Justice J.J. Munir passed this while hearing a petition filed by Smt Rajani. The petition is directed against the order dated 13.04.2022 passed by the Additional District Judge, Special Judge (U.P. Gangsters and Anti-social Activities (Prevention) Act, 1986) Muzaffarnagar, dismissing Civil Revision and affirming an order dated 07.03.2022 passed by the Civil Judge (Senior Division) Fast Track Court, Muzaffarnagar in Original Suit, rejecting the petitioner’s application seeking to recall orders dated 26.10.2021 and 14.12.2021.

By the order dated 26.10.2021, an application for adjournment by the defendant has been rejected and his opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witness closed. The suit was directed to come up for arguments. By the order dated 14.12.2021, in the absence of the defendant, the suit was directed to come up for arguments ex-parte on 03.01.2022.

The Court observed that the original suit was filed by Vipul Mittal against Yogendra Kumar Garg before the Court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Muzaffarnagar for partition of his half share in the house situated at Mohalla Civil Lines, West, Muzaffarnagar. The plaintiff sought a decree in terms that after the determination of his share, the suit property be partitioned by metes and bounds and separate possession delivered to him.

A decree for permanent injunction was also sought to the effect that the defendants, prior to the partition being effected, may not mortgage the suit property or alter the nature and character of the house in dispute.

The Court noted,

The order passed by the Trial Judge shows that he has rejected the Application seeking recall of the order dated 14.12.2021 alone, that is to say, the application dated 04.01.2022 on the ground that there is no order dated 14.12.2021. That remark or reason to reject by the Trial Court is not borne out from the record. There is definitely an order dated 14.12.2021 passed by the Trial Court, directing the suit to come up for address of arguments ex-parte.

So far as the other application is concerned, the Trial Court has dismissed it on the ground that the order dated 14.12.2021 is non-existent and the order dated 26.10.2021 ought not to be recalled, because the defendant is merely trying to delay the trial.

The Revisional Court has upheld the orders impugned on the ground that both the applications have been made much beyond limitation, without an application or prayer for condonation of delay; but, this is one facet of the reasoning that the Revisional Court has adopted.

The Revisional Court has looked wholesomely into the record to arrive at a conclusion that the defendant is attempting to delay trial of the suit, which has been expedited under orders of this Court dated 14.09.2018 passed in some supervisory proceedings. It appears that there is some order of the Court, directing the suit to be decided within two years and that schedule was violated because of the dilatory tactics adopted by the defendant. It is bearing all these facts in mind that the Revisional Court has declined to interfere with the orders made by the Trial Judge.

The Trial Judge in between 28.01.2021 and 26.10.2021 has taken note of the orders of this Court in the order recorded on 02.08.2021, saying that the High Court has issued directions for concluding the trial within two years, and further, that the suit has been assigned to him by the District Judge. It is not that the order dated 26.10.2021, closing the defendant’s opportunity has been passed surreptitiously or suddenly. The defendant has been given enough opportunity by the orders passed by the Trial Court on earlier dates, and also, by all those ominous resolutions of the Bar, directing its members to abstain from judicial work.

The Court further observed that,

The Court takes particular notice of the order dated 13.09.2021, where the Trial Judge has observed that the High Court has directed the suit to be decided within two years, but despite repeated requests to the Counsel, no one is appearing. This was so because the Bar had abstained from judicial work. This conduct of the Bar is not only reprehensible, but also downright illegal. The Bar Association is, after all, a registered society and cannot hold up the functioning of a Sovereign Court by their resolutions. Whatever they do, they do it at the peril of the litigants whose interest their Members represent. If the Counsel refuses to appear and so do the parties, the Court is supposed to pass orders in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 that provides for orders to be made when parties, both or one, are absent.

Again on 14.12.2021, the Members of the Bar abstained from judicial work, because Bar Elections were going on. It is beyond imagination that the work of a Court would be brought to a grinding halt, because the elections of a registered society are to be held. No doubt, the Members of the Bar are superior officers of the Court, but the Bar Association is no more than a registered society established for the welfare of the Members of the Bar and to positively contribute to the functioning of its individual Members. The Bar Association is not established to obstruct functioning of the Court and interfere with the discharge of its sovereign functions. The Trial Court was, therefore, absolutely right when it made the order dated 14.12.2021, directing the suit to come up for address of arguments ex-parte.

“It must be noted that on 14.12.2021, Counsel for the plaintiff was present. Had the Counsel for the plaintiff not been present on 14.12.2021, the Trial Court would have dismissed the suit in default also. But, it was the defendant’s Counsel alone who was absent and not the plaintiff. The order dated 14.12.2021, like the order dated 26.10.2021, is unexceptionable. It must be noted that on 26.10.2021 also, the plaintiff, along with his Counsel, was present. The Revisional Court has upheld the order on the ground of limitation, besides taking the conduct of the defendant into account, though not eloquently said in the order passed by the Additional District Judge.

For the added reasons mentioned, the Court concurs in the conclusion reached by the two Courts below unanimously,” the Court further observed while dismissing the petition.

“The Registrar General is directed to circulate this order to all the District Judges, the Presiding Officers of Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Tribunals, the Principal Judges of Family Courts, the Presiding Officers of Motor Accident Claim Tribunals and the Chairman, Board of Revenue,” the order reads.

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