Courts should get out of adjournment culture, not grant adjournments mechanically

Courts should get out of adjournment culture, not grant adjournments mechanically

Ishwarlal Marli Rathod Vs Gopal and Another

Supreme Court

20/09/2021

SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NOS.14117­14118 OF 2021

About/from the judgment:

Courts should not grant adjournments mechanically and in a routine manner, the Supreme Court said, urging courts not to be cause for for delay in justice dispensation.

The Bench was dealing with an appeal against a Madhya Pradesh High Court order which had confirmed a lower court order closing the right of defendants to cross examine the plaintiff's witnesses after repeated adjournments.

"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," the order said.

Many a time when trial courts refuse to grant unnecessary adjournments, they are accused of being strict and they may face displeasure of the Bar, the Court observed.

However, a judicial officer should 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 for justice, the top court made it clear.

In the instant case, the Court noted that around ten adjournments were granted by the trial court between 2014 to 2019 to the defendants.

Lastly the adjournment was given with cost as a last opportunity.

Despite the same the petitioner – defendant did not cross­ examine the plaintiff’s witness. On October 14, 2019 time for cross examination was given with cost of Rs.5,000 and with the condition that in any case they fail to cross examine, their right of cross examination would be treated as closed. Despite the same, the petitioner – defendant did not cross examine the plaintiff’s witness and therefore on November 5, 2019 their right was treated as closed.

The petitioner then approached the High Court. The High Court initially allowed the petition as a gesture of leniency but the defendants once again failed to cross examine and the trial court for the second time, closed the defendant's right to cross-examine.

This order was confirmed by the High Court leading to the present appeal before the apex court.

The Supreme Court in its order noted that time has come to "change the work culture and get out of the adjournment culture" so that the confidence and trust put by the litigants on the justice delivery system is not shaken and rule of law is maintained.

Time has come to change the work culture and get out of the adjournment culture.
Supreme Court

The two-judge bench while dismissing the special leave petition noted that such an approach was 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. Petitioner – defendant acted in a manner to cause colossal insult to justice and to concept of speedy disposal of civil litigation," the order stated.

The top court also noted how pendency of cases was mounting and delay tactics and repeated adjournments was contributing to the same.

"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," said the bench

The task of adjournments is to kill justice and not getting timely justice may shake the trust and confidence of the litigants in the justice delivery system.

"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," the order said.

Thus, the Supreme Court urged judges to refrain from granting adjournments and dismissed the appeal

"The courts have to be diligent and take timely action in order to usher in efficient justice dispensation system and maintain faith in rule of law," the Bench underscored.

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