9 Apr 2010

No decision without proper assistance by lawyers: Supreme Court

Declaring that there is no obligation of a court to decide a case unless properly assisted by the Bar, the Supreme Court in a recent decision dismissed a writ petition inter alia holding that the counsel was not able to show how it was maintainable or carried merit. In this background, the Bench took opportunity to cull out the legal principles in regard to the Courts being assisted by the lawyers for effective adminstration of the justice delivery system.

The Court observed as under;
11. In Thakur Sukhpal Singh Vs. Thakur Kalyan Singh & Anr., AIR 1963 SC 146, this Court has held that in absence of proper assistance to the Court by the lawyer, there is no obligation on the part of the Court to decide the case, for the simple reason that unless the lawyer renders the proper assistance to the Court, the Court is not able to decide the case. It is not for the Court itself to decide the controversy. The counsel cannot just raise the issues in his petition and leave it to the Court to give its decision on those points after going through the record and determining the correctness thereof. It is not for the Court itself to find out what the points for determination can be and then proceed to give a decision on those points
12. While deciding the said case, this Court placed reliance upon the judgment of Privy Council in Mst. Fakrunisa & Ors. Vs. Moulvi Izarus Sadik & Ors., AIR 1921 PC 55 wherein it had been observed as under:–
“In every appeal it is incumbent upon the appellants to show some reason why the judgment appealed from should be disturbed; there must be some balance in their favour when all the circumstances are considered to justify the alteration of the judgment that stands. Their Lordships are unable to find that this duty has been discharged.”
13. In The Bar Council of Maharashtra Vs. M. V. Dabholkar & Ors. AIR 1976 SC 242, this Court had observed as under :- “Be it remembered that the central function of the legal profession is to promote the administration of justice. If the practice of law is thus a public utility of great implications and a monopoly is statutorily granted by the nation, it obligates the lawyer to observe scrupulously those norms which make him worthy of the confidence of the community in him as a vehicle of justice – social justice ... Law is no trade, briefs no merchandise.”
14. In T.C. Mathai & Anr. Vs. District & Sessions Judge, Thiruvananthapuram AIR 1999 SC 1385, this Court observed: “The work in a Court of law is a serious and responsible function. The primary duty of a.......court is to administer.......justice. Any lax or wayward approach, if adopted; towards the issues involved in the case, can cause serious consequences for the parties concerned........In the adversary system which is now being followed in India, both in civil and criminal litigation, it is very necessary that the Court gets proper assistance from both sides……………. Efficacies discharge of judicial process very often depends upon the valuable services rendered by the legal profession” 
15. In D.P. Chadha Vs. Triyugi Narain Mishra & Ors., AIR 2001 SC 457, this Court has observed as under:– “..........Mutual confidence in the discharge of duties and cordial relations between Bench and Bar smoothen the movement of the chariot. As responsible officers of the Court, as they are called ---- and rightly, the counsel have an overall obligation of assisting the Courts in a just and proper manner in the just and proper administration of justice.”
16. Thus, in view of the above, law can be summarised to the effect that, in case, the counsel for the party is not able to render any assistance, the Court may decline to entertain the petition. 
17. There is another aspect of the matter. In case, petitioner’s counsel is not able to raise a factual or legal issue, though such a point may have a good merit, the Court should not decide the same as the opposite counsel does not “have a fair opportunity to answer the line of reasoning adopted” in this behalf. Such a judgment may be violative of principles of natural justice. (vide New Delhi Municipal Committee vs. State of Punjab AIR 1997 SC 2847).
18. While dealing with a similar issue, this Court in Re: Sanjiv Datta (1995) 3 SCC 619 observed as under:- “Of late, we have been coming across several instances which can only be described as unfortunate both for the legal profession and the administration of justice. It becomes, therefore, our duty to bring it to the notice of the  members of the profession that it is in their hands to improve the quality of the service they render both to the litigant-public and to the courts, and to brighten their image in the society. Some members of the profession have been adopting perceptibly casual approach to the practice of the profession as is evident from their absence when the matters are called out, the filing of  incomplete and inaccurate pleadings — many times even illegible and without personal check and verification, the non-payment of court fees and process fees, the failure to remove office objections, the failure to take steps to serve the parties, et al. They do not realise the seriousness of these acts and omissions. They not only amount to the contempt of the court but do positive disservice to the litigants and create embarrassing situation in the court leading to avoidable unpleasantness and delay in the disposal of matters. This augurs ill for the health of our judicial system……. The legal profession is different from other professions in that what the lawyers do, affects not only an individual but the administration of justice which is the foundation of the civilised society.”

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