5 Mar 2010

'Adjournment lawyers' not required: High Court

Muffing upon the recalcitrant attitude of lawyers in taking adjournment upon adjournment, in a recent decision the Delhi High Court has made glaring observations on such conduct requiring the Court to meet with such attitude in strict terms. The order of a lower court was under challenge before the High Court in the present case wherein the lower court had refused adjournment sought by the lawyer on the ground that the file relating to the case had been lost along with the car in which such file was kept when the car was stolen. The High Court refusing to interfere, noted against such adjournment-seeking practice in the following terms;
9. It is seen that these efforts of dragging the case succeeds because of the latitude shown by the High Court in allowing such mercy pleas and in acceding to requests of granting one more opportunity. It looks as if there is an understanding between the Courts and the advocates that come what may, the orders of trial Court refusing adjournments shall be set aside on mercy pleas and one more opportunity shall be granted. It is because of this attitude that in almost all cases where the advocates intend to drag the case either they let the case get proceeded ex parte or they don’t examine the witnesses on one or the other pretext or seek adjournment subject to cost, then don’t pay cost and when the evidence is closed or cross examination is closed, they rush to High Court and pray for one more opportunity, which they normally get with some more costs. This entire unwritten procedure which is followed on the basis of previous precedents has created bottlenecks in the entire judicial system and a lot of trial Courts’ efforts and time is wasted. Efficiency comes down. A host of frivolous applications are moved and a lot of time first of trial Court and then the High Court is wasted in entertaining petitions. A case which normally should not take more than one year in decision keeps dragging for years and years. The witnesses keep on appearing in the Courts and adjournments are granted in the name of strike or in the name of elections or in the name of personal difficulty of the Senior Counsel or in the name of personal difficulties of briefing Counsel or because the two Counsel agree for adjournment. This whole culture of adjournment is one of the big reasons that a case or a petition which should be decided in two or three hearings keeps pending for more than 100 hearings. A separate breed of advocates have cropped up, who are ‘adjournment experts’ and ‘case dragging expert’. Such advocates are deliberately engaged, who put forward all kinds of excuses to see that the case is adjourned. I consider that this culture has to be brought to an end and no petition for setting aside such orders of the trial Court, where cross examination is closed or other steps are taken by the trial court to enforce the procedure as laid down by CPC, should be allowed on the ground that the petitioner should not suffer for the negligence of the Counsel. A litigant has to be vigilant and has to pursue the case diligently on all hearings. Where a litigant does not appear in the Court and leaves the case at the mercy of his Counsel without bothering as to what different frivolous pleas were being taken by his/her Counsel for adjournments is bound to suffer.
10. Counsel is engaged only for giving expert legal advice and on all hearing litigants must be present in the court and if he/she finds that the Counsel was not diligently following the case, the litigant should withdraw the case from the Counsel immediately and give it to other Counsel and should also claim suitable compensation from such Counsel.

1 comment:

Vijaya Shekhar said...

This adjournment seeking practice, once a mere nuisance has become a cancer and these adjournment advocates or case dragging experts are in the good books of the Magistrates. It is so apparent that the adjournment is granted just for asking. It seems the Magistrates retire, giving only adjournments. They and the adjournment advocates harass the litigants. One does not know how to tackle this terrorist activity. Glaring example of Salman Khan's case. The adjournment Expert Srikant Shivade, dragged on the case for 13 years, finally he died of cancer. He could not take adjournment from God. These lawyers are engaged to fight vexatious litigations. The PM, if his Make in India and other projects should really happen, the legal system in India should drastically change.