Supreme Court: In the case where ten times adjournments were given between 2015 to 2019 and even twice the adjournments were granted as a last opportunity and even the cost was imposed, the bench of MR Shah* and AS Bopanna, JJ has held that the courts shall be very slow in granting adjournments and 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 Court was dealing with “a classic example of misuse of adjournments granted by the court”.
A suit for eviction, arrears of rent and mesne profit was filed in the year 2013. Thereafter, despite the 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. It was also brought to the Court’s notice that as such now even the main suit has been disposed of.
The Supreme Court called such approach ‘wholly condemnable’ and said,
“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.”
Taking the example of the case at hand, the Court noticed that,
“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.”
Noticing that arrears are mounting because of such dilatory tactics and asking repeated adjournments by the advocates and mechanically and in routine manner granted by the courts, the Court said that,
“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.”
The Court was also conscious of the fact 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.
Therefore, it was directed that 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.
[Ishwarlal Mali Rathod v. Gopal, Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 14117-14118/2021, order dated 20.09.2021]
Counsels: Mr. N.K. Mody, Sr. Adv. Mr. Shishir Kumar Saxena, Adv. Mr. R.N. Pareek, Adv. Mr. Prabhuddha Singh, Adv. Ms. Soumya Chaturvedi, Adv. Ms. Sharmila, Adv. Mr. Praveen Swarup, AOR
*Order by: Justice MR Shah