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Friday, February 1, 2013

“Our justice system, even in grave cases, suffers from slow motion syndrome which is lethal to “fair trial”, whatever the ultimate decision. Speedy justice is a component of social justice since the community, as a whole, is concerned in the criminal being condignly and finally punished within a reasonable time and the innocent being absolved from the inordinate ordeal of criminal proceedings.”


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                Special Leave Petition (C) No. 25848 of 2011


Noor Mohammed                                ... Petitioner

                                   Versus

Jethanand and another                                ...Respondents








                               J U D G M E N T


Dipak Misra, J.



       In  a  democratic  body  polity  which  is  governed  by  a   written
Constitution and where Rule of Law is paramount, judiciary  is  regarded  as
sentinel on the qui vive not only to protect the Fundamental Rights  of  the
citizens but also to see that the democratic  values  as  enshrined  in  the
Constitution are respected and the faith and  hope  of  the  people  in  the
constitutional system are not  atrophied.  
Sacrosanctity  of  rule  of  law
neither recognizes a master and a slave nor does it conceive of a ruler  and
a subject but, in quintessentiality, encapsules and sings in  glory  of  the
values of liberty, equality and justice In  accordance  with  law  requiring
the present generation to have the responsibility to sustain them  with  all
fairness for the posterity ostracising all  affectations.
To  maintain  the
sacredness of democracy, sacrifice in  continuum  by  every  member  of  the
collective is  a  categorical  imperative.  The  fundamental  conception  of
democracy can only be preserved as a colossal and priceless  treasure  where
virtue and values of justice rule supreme and intellectual anaemia  is  kept
at  bay  by  constant  patience,  consistent  perseverance,  and  argus-eyed
vigilance.
The foundation of justice, apart from  other  things,  rests  on
the speedy delineation of the lis pending in courts.  It  would  not  be  an
exaggeration to state that  it  is  the  primary  morality  of  justice  and
ethical fulcrum of the judiciary.  
Its  profundity  lies  in  not  allowing
anything to cripple the same or to do any act which would freeze it or  make
it suffer from impotency.
Delayed delineation of a controversy in  a  court
of law creates a dent in the normative dispensation of justice  and  in  the
ultimate eventuate, the Bench and the Bar gradually  lose  their  reverence,
for the sense of divinity  and  nobility  really  flows  from  institutional
serviceability.  
Therefore,  historically,  emphasis  has  been   laid   on
individual  institutionalism   and   collective   institutionalism   of   an
adjudicator while administering justice.
It can be stated without any  fear
of contradiction that the collective collegiality can never be  regarded  as
an alien concept to speedy dispensation of justice.  That  is  the  hallmark
of duty, and that is the real measure.

2.    Presently to the  factual  matrix.   The  respondent  initiated  civil
action by instituting Civil Suit No. 42 of 1990 for injunction  to  restrain
the defendant therein from selling or otherwise transferring the  suit  land
towards the southern side of the house and further  to  permanently  injunct
him to make any construction on the land  in  dispute.  
After  the  written
statement was filed, a  counter  claim  was  put  forth  by  the  defendant.
Thereafter,  issues  were  framed  and  the  parties  adduced  evidence   to
substantiate their respective  stands.  
On  12.9.1997,  the  learned  Civil
Judge (Junior Division) Nohar,  District  Hanumangarh,  Rajasthan  dismissed
the suit  and  decreed  the  counter  claim  filed  by  defendant-petitioner
herein.
Being grieved by the  aforesaid  judgment  and  decree,  the  first
respondent preferred Civil First Appeal No. 59 of 1997 in the Court  of  the
concerned Additional District Judge, Nohar who, on 10.07.2001 dismissed  the
appeal.
The dismissal of appeal compelled the respondent to  file  a  Civil
Second Appeal No. 207/2001 in the High Court of Judicature of  Rajasthan  at
Jodhpur.

3.    Be it noted, we have not  adverted  to  the  factual  controversy  and
findings returned thereon because advertence to the same  is  not  necessary
for our purpose.

4.    The chequered history of the second appeal, a  tragic  one,  commenced
on 27.7.2011, when memorandum of the appeal was presented.  The  appeal  was
listed for admission along with the stay  application  on  30.07.2001.  
The
petitioner herein had  entered  caveat  and  was  present  on  the  date  of
admission and on the basis of the prayer  made  by  both  the  parties,  the
court called for the lower courts’ records.
Subsequently,  the  matter  was
listed on 8.11.2001, 5.12.2001 and 18.1.2002 but due  to  non-appearance  of
counsel for the parties, no order was passed.  
On  18.2.2002,  though  none
was present on behalf of the appellant therein, yet the court adjourned  the
appeal.  Similarly, adjournments were granted in the absence of  counsel  on
20.01.2003 and 4.2.2003.
It is interesting to note  that  when  the  appeal
was listed on 4.2.2003,  the  court  directed  issuance  of  notice  to  the
appellant for making appropriate arrangements for his  representation.  
 It
is apposite to note that the counsel for the respondent therein was  present
on that day.
Thereafter, the matter  was  adjourned  on  many  an  occasion
awaiting for service of  notice  on  the  appellant.  
After  completion  of
service of notice, the matter was listed on 23.9.2003 and,  as  usual,  none
was present for the appellant.
Similar was the situation on 7.10.2003.   On
10.11.2003, when  none  was  present  for  the  appellant,  the  appeal  was
dismissed for non-prosecution  in  the  presence  of  the  counsel  for  the
respondent.

5.    After the  appeal  was  dismissed  for  want  of     prosecution,  the
appellant  before  the  High  Court  woke  up  from  slumber  and  filed  an
application for restoration in 2004 which was eventually allowed vide  order
dated 9.1.2006.
As the order sheet would reflect, time  got  comatosed  for
more than six years and eventually, ministerial  order  of  restoration  was
recorded  on  11.5.2010.  
After  the  formality  of  restoration  was  over
breaking the artificial arrest of time, when the file  moved  like  a  large
python, the appeal was listed before the court for admission  on  25.10.2010
on which day the learned counsel for the appellant  commenced  the  argument
and  ultimately  sought  adjournment.  
The  matter   stood   adjourned   to
10.11.2010.  Thereafter, an application under  Section  100  (5)  read  with
Order 41, Rule 2 Code of Civil Procedure was  filed  by  the  appellant  and
opportunity was granted to the counsel for  the  respondent,  the  plaintiff
therein, to file reply to the same and the matter was directed to be  listed
after two weeks.  
As the order sheet would  further  uncurtain  the  appeal
was listed again on 29.11.2010 and  in  the  meantime,  the  respondent  had
filed an application under Order 41 Rule 27 read with Section 151 of CPC.

6.    On 24.2.2011, when the matter was  listed  for  admission,  the  Court
directed that  the  matter  shall  be  listed  for  admission  and  all  the
applications would  be  considered  on  that  date.   On  7.3.2011,  it  was
directed by the court to list the matter after one week as  adjournment  was
sought for.  Similar prayer for adjournment was made on  16.3.2011  and  the
matter was again directed to be listed after two weeks as  prayed  for.   On
27.04.2011, the learned Single Judge passed the following order:
                 “None for the appellant.

                 I have perused the record.  This second appeal  was  filed
           as back as in the year 2001 and it is now  more  than  10  years
           that it is not yet either admitted for final hearing with a view
           to find out whether it involves any substantial question of  law
           within the meaning of Section 100.  It  has  undoubtedly  caused
           serious concern to my conscience that this appeal has taken  ten
           years to decide whether it involves any substantial question  of
           law.

                 The matter is being adjourned almost on every occasions in
           the last ten years to accommodate the counsel regardless of  the
           sufficient cause and only on mere request.

                 Even today the counsel is engaged for  the  appellant  has
           not appeared.  Another counsel got up and said that the  counsel
           engaged is not well and, therefore, the case be adjourned.

                 I could have dismissed the appeal for want of  prosecution
           but I prefer not to do so because it does  not  serve  anybody’s
           purpose.  With extreme reluctance and against my conscience  and
           with a view to do substantial justice to the appellant  to  give
           right of audience, I am  constrained  to  adjourn  the  case  to
           accommodate the counsel (though I am not supposed to)  and  list
           the appeal for admission in the next week.”


7.    At last, on 9.5.2011, the learned counsel for both the sides  appeared
and the matter was admitted on two substantial questions of  law  and  there
was direction for stay of operation of  the  impugned  judgment  and  decree
passed by the courts below.

8.    Mr. H.D. Thanvi, learned counsel for  the  petitioner,  has  contended
that there was no substantial question of law involved and  the  High  Court
had no reason to entertain the second appeal only on the factual score.

9.    When the matter was listed  on  21.9.2012  before  us,  the  following
order was passed: -
           “Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that Second Appeal
           preferred by Respondent No. 1 in 2001  was  dismissed  for  non-
           prosecution  on  10.11.2003,  but  later  restored  to  file  in
           January, 2006 and after almost 10 years of filing of the  second
           appeal, the judgment and decree of both the  courts  below  have
           been stayed by the  High  Court  by  its  impugned  order  dated
           9.5.2011.

                 Registrar General of the Rajasthan High Court  is  directed
           to file the details of the progress of S. B. Civil Second Appeal
           No. 207 of 2001, from 2001 to 2011, within two weeks.”

10. In pursuance of the aforesaid order, the Registrar General  has  sent  a
   report to this Court on the basis of  which  we  have  referred  to  the
   proceedings before the High Court.  At this  juncture,  we  may  clearly
   state that we had not issued notice to the contesting respondent  as  we
   are not inclined to interfere with the order.  But, a pregnant one,  the
   manner in which the proceedings in the second  appeal  continued,  being
   disturbing, compels us to say something on the  said  score.   Not  that
   this Court is saying it for the first time but a reminder  serves  as  a
   propeller  for  keen  introspection  and  paves  the  path   of   needed
   rectification.

11. The proceedings in the second appeal before the High Court, if we  allow
   ourselves to say so, epitomizes the corrosive effect  that  adjournments
   can have on a litigation  and  how  a  lis  can  get  entangled  in  the
   tentacles of an octopus.  The philosophy  of  justice,  the  role  of  a
   lawyer and the court, the obligation of a litigant and  all  legislative
   commands, the nobility of  the  Bench  and  the  Bar,  the  ability  and
   efficiency of all concerned and  ultimately  the  divinity  of  law  are
   likely to make way for apathy and indifference when delay of the present
   nature takes place, for procrastination on the part of  anyone  destroys
   the values of life and creates a catastrophic turbulence in the sanctity
   of law.  The virtues of adjudication cannot be allowed to  be  paralyzed
   by adjournments and non-demonstration of due diligence to deal with  the
   matter.  One cannot be oblivious to the feeling necessities of the time.
    No one can afford to sit in an ivory tower.   Neither  a  Judge  nor  a
   lawyer can ignore “the total push and pressure of the  cosmos”.   It  is
   devastating to expect infinite patience.   Change  of  attitude  is  the
   warrant and command of the day.  We may recall with profit what  Justice
   Cardozo had said:
           “It is true, I think, today in every department of law that  the
           social value of a rule has become a test of  growing  power  and
           importance”.

12. It has to be kept in mind that the time of leisure has  to  be  given  a
   decent burial.  The sooner it takes place, the better it is.  It is  the
   obligation of the present generation to march with the time  and  remind
   oneself every moment that rule of law is  the  centripodal  concern  and
   delay in delineation and disposal of cases injects an  artificial  virus
   and becomes a vitiating element.   The  unfortunate  characteristics  of
   endemic delays have to be avoided at any cost.  One has to bear in  mind
   that this is the day, this is the hour and this is the moment, when  all
   soldiers of law fight from the path.  One has to remind oneself  of  the
   great saying, “Awake, Arise, ‘O’ Partha”.

13.  As  advised,  at  present,  we  are  disposed  to  refer   to   certain
   pronouncements of this Court.  A three-Judge Bench in Kailash v.  Nanhku
   and others[1], while dealing with the issue whether Order 8  Rule  1  of
   Code of Civil Procedure is  mandatory  or  directory,  referred  to  the
   observations in Sushil Kumar Sen v.  State  of  Bihar[2]  which  we  may
   profitably reproduce: -
                 “The mortality of justice at the hands of  law  troubles  a
           judge's conscience and points an angry interrogation at the  law
           reformer.

                 The processual law so dominates in certain  systems  as  to
           overpower  substantive  rights  and  substantial  justice.   The
           humanist rule that procedure should be  the  handmaid,  not  the
           mistress, of legal justice compels consideration  of  vesting  a
           residuary power in judges to act ex debito justitiae  where  the
           tragic sequel otherwise would be wholly inequitable.  …  Justice
           is  the  goal  of  jurisprudence  —  processual,  as   much   as
           substantive.”


      The Bench further referred to the pronouncement in State of Punjab  v.
Shamlal Murari[3] to emphasise the  approach  relating  to  the  process  of
adjective law.  It has been stated in the said case: -
            “Processual law is not to be a tyrant but  a  servant,  not  an
           obstruction but an aid to justice. Procedural prescriptions  are
           the handmaid and not the mistress, a lubricant, not a  resistant
           in the administration of justice.”


14.   We may note with profit that the Court had  further  opined  that  the
procedure is directory but emphasis was laid on the concept of  desirability
and for the aforesaid purpose, reference was made to Topline Shoes  Ltd.  v.
Corpn. Bank[4].  Analysing the purpose  behind  it,  the  three-Judge-Bench,
referring to Topline Shoes Ltd. (supra), observed thus: -
           “36. The Court further held that the provision is more by way of
           procedure to achieve the  object  of  speedy  disposal  of  such
           disputes. The strong terms in which the provision is couched are
           an expression of “desirability” but do not create  any  kind  of
           substantive right in favour of  the  complainant  by  reason  of
           delay so as to debar the respondent from placing his version  in
           defence in any circumstances whatsoever.”


15.   In Shiv Cotex v. Tirgun Auto Plast Private Limited and others[5]  this
Court was dealing with a judgment passed by  the  High  Court  in  a  second
appeal wherein the High Court had not formulated  any  substantial  question
of law and further allowed the second  appeal  preferred  by  the  plaintiff
solely on the ground that the stakes were  high  and  the  plaintiff  should
have been non-suited on the basis of no evidence.  This Court took  note  of
the fact that after  issues  were  framed  and  the  matter  was  fixed  for
production of  the  evidence  of  the  plaintiff  on  three  occasions,  the
plaintiff chose not to adduce the  evidence.   The  question  posed  by  the
Court was to the following effect: -
           “Is the court obliged  to  give  adjournment  after  adjournment
           merely because the stakes are high in the dispute?   Should  the
           court be silent spectator and leave control of  the  case  to  a
           party to the case who has decided not to take the case forward?”

Thereafter, the Court proceeded to answer thus: -
           “15. It is sad, but true, that the  litigants  seek  -  and  the
           courts grant - adjournments at the drop of the hat. In the cases
           where the Judges are little proactive and refuse  to  accede  to
           the requests of unnecessary adjournments, the  litigants  deploy
           all sorts of methods in protracting the litigation.  It  is  not
           surprising that civil disputes drag on  and  on.  The  misplaced
           sympathy and indulgence by the appellate and  revisional  courts
           compound the malady further. The case in hand is a case of  such
           misplaced sympathy. It is high time that courts become sensitive
           to  delays  in  justice  delivery  system   and   realise   that
           adjournments do dent the efficacy of the judicial process and if
           this menace is not controlled adequately,  the  litigant  public
           may lose faith in the system  sooner  than  later.  The  courts,
           particularly trial courts, must ensure that  on  every  date  of
           hearing, effective progress takes place in the suit.

           16. No litigant has a right to abuse the procedure  provided  in
           CPC. Adjournments have grown like cancer  corroding  the  entire
           body of justice delivery system.”


      After so stating, the Bench observed as follows: -
           “A party to the suit is not at liberty to proceed with the trial
           at its leisure and pleasure and has no right to  determine  when
           the evidence would be let in by  it  or  the  matter  should  be
           heard. The parties to a suit —  whether  the  plaintiff  or  the
           defendant — must  cooperate  with  the  court  in  ensuring  the
           effective work on the date of hearing for which the  matter  has
           been fixed. If they don’t, they do so at their own peril.”

16.   In Ramon Services Pvt. Ltd. v. Subhash  Kapoor  and  others[6],  after
referring to a passage from Mahabir Prasad  Singh  v.  Jacks  Aviation  Pvt.
Ltd.[7], the Court cautioned thus: -
           “Nonetheless we put the profession to notice that in future  the
           advocate would also be answerable for the  consequence  suffered
           by the party if the non-appearance was solely on the ground of a
           strike call.  It is unjust and inequitable to  cause  the  party
           alone  to  suffer  for  the  self  imposed  dereliction  of  his
           advocate.  We may further add  that  the  litigant  who  suffers
           entirely on account of his advocate’s non-appearance  in  Court,
           he has also the remedy to sue the advocate for damages but  that
           remedy would remain unaffected by the  course  adopted  in  this
           case.  Even so, in situations like this, when the  Court  mulcts
           the party with costs for the failure of his advocate to  appear,
           we make it clear that the same Court has  power  to  permit  the
           party  to  realize  the  costs  from  the  advocate   concerned.
           However, such direction can be passed only  after  affording  an
           opportunity to the advocate.  If he has  any  justifiable  cause
           the Court can certainly absolve him from such a liability.”

17. Be it noted, though the said  passage  was  stated  in  the  context  of
   strike by the lawyers, yet it has its  accent  on  non-appearance  by  a
   counsel in the court.

18. In this  context,  we  may  refer  to  the  pronouncement  in  Pandurang
   Dattatraya  Khandekar  v.  Bar  Council  of  Maharashtra,   Bombay   and
   others[8], wherein the Court observed that an advocate stands in a  loco
   parentis towards the litigants  and  it,  therefore,  follows  that  the
   client  is  entitled  to  receive  disinterested,  sincere  and   honest
   treatment especially where  the  client  approaches  the  advocates  for
   succour in times of need.

19.  In Lt. Col. S.J. Chaudhary v. State (Delhi Administration)[9], a three-
   Judge Bench, while dealing with the role of an advocate  in  a  criminal
   trial, has observed as follows: -
           “We  are  unable  to  appreciate  the  difficulty  said  to   be
           experienced by the petitioner.  It is stated that  his  Advocate
           is finding it difficult to attend the court from day-to-day.  It
           is the duty of every  Advocate,  who  accepts  the  brief  in  a
           criminal case to attend the trial from  day-to-day.   We  cannot
           over-stress the duty of the Advocate to attend to the trial from
           day-to-day.  Having accepted the brief, he will be committing  a
           breach of his professional duty, if he so fails to attend.”

20.   In Mahabir Prasad Singh (supra), the Bench,  laying  emphasis  on  the
obligation of a lawyer in his duty towards the Court and  the  duty  of  the
Court to the Bar, has ruled as under: -
                 “A lawyer is under obligation to  do  nothing  that  shall
           detract from the dignity of the Court of which he is  himself  a
           sworn officer  and  assistant.   He  should  at  all  times  pay
           deferential respect to the judge, and scrupulously  observe  the
           decorum of the Court room. (Warevelle’s Legal Ethics at p.182)

                 Of course, it is not a  unilateral  affair.   There  is  a
           reciprocal duty for the  Court  also  to  be  courteous  to  the
           members of the Bar and to make every endeavour  for  maintaining
           and protecting the respect which members of the Bar are entitled
           to have from their clients as well as from the litigant  public.
           Both the Bench and the Bar are the two inextricable wings of the
           judicial forum and therefore the  aforesaid  mutual  respect  is
           sine qua non for the efficient functioning of  the  solemn  work
           carried on in Courts of law.  But that does not  mean  that  any
           advocate or  group  of  them  can  boycott  the  courts  or  any
           particular Court and ask the Court to  desist  from  discharging
           judicial function.  At any rate, no advocate can ask  the  Court
           to avoid a case on the ground that he does not want to appear in
           that Court.”

21. While recapitulating the duties of a lawyer towards the  Court  and  the
   society, being a member of the legal  profession,  this  Court  in  O.P.
   Sharma and others v. High Court of Punjab and Haryana[10]  has  observed
   that the role and status of lawyers at the beginning  of  sovereign  and
   democratic India is accounted as extremely vital in  deciding  that  the
   nation’s administration was to be governed by  the  Rule  of  Law.   The
   Bench emphasized on the role of eminent lawyers in the  framing  of  the
   Constitution.  Emphasis was also laid on the concept  that  lawyers  are
   the Officers of the Court in the administration of justice.

22.  In R.K. Garg, Advocate v. State of Himachal  Pradesh[11],  Chandrachud,
   C.J., speaking for the Court pertaining to the relationship between  the
   Bench and the Bar, opined thus: -

           “....the Bar and the Bench are an  integral  part  of  the  same
           mechanism which administers justice to the people. Many  members
           of the Bench are drawn from the Bar and their  past  association
           is a source of inspiration and pride to them. It ought to  be  a
           matter of equal pride to the Bar. It is unquestionably true that
           courtesy breeds courtesy and just as charity  has  to  begin  at
           home, courtesy must begin with the Judge. A  discourteous  Judge
           is like an ill-tuned instrument in the setting of a court  room.
           But members of the Bar  will  do  well  to  remember  that  such
           flagrant violations of professional ethics and cultured  conduct
           will only result in the ultimate destruction of a system without
           which no democracy can survive.”

23.   We have referred to the aforesaid judgments  solely  for  the  purpose
that this Court, in  different  contexts,  had  dealt  with  the  malady  of
adjournment and expressed its  agony  and  anguish.   Whatever  may  be  the
nature of litigation, speedy and appropriate delineation is  fundamental  to
judicial duty.  Commenting on the delay  in  the  justice  delivery  system,
although in respect of criminal trial, Krishna Iyer, J. had stated thus: -

           “Our justice system, even in  grave  cases,  suffers  from  slow
           motion syndrome which is lethal to “fair  trial”,  whatever  the
           ultimate decision.  Speedy justice  is  a  component  of  social
           justice since the community, as a whole,  is  concerned  in  the
           criminal  being  condignly  and  finally   punished   within   a
           reasonable  time  and  the  innocent  being  absolved  from  the
           inordinate ordeal of criminal proceedings.”

24. In criminal  jurisprudence,  speedy  trial  has  become  an  indivisible
   component of Article 21 of the Constitution and it has been held by this
   Court that it is the constitutional obligation on the part of the  State
   to provide the infrastructure for speedy trial (see  Hussainara  Khatoon
   v. Home Secretary, State  of  Bihar[12],  Hussainara  Khatoon  (IV)  and
   others v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar, Patna[13]).

25.  In   Diwan   Naubat   Rai   and   others   v.   State   through   Delhi
   Administration[14], it has  been  opined  that  right  to  speedy  trial
   encompasses all stages of trial, namely, investigation, enquiry,  trial,
   appeal and revision.

26. In Surinder Singh v. State of Punjab[15], it has  been  reiterated  that
   speedy trial is implicit in the broad sweep and content of Article 21 of
   the Constitution of India.  Thus, it has been put at the zenith and that
   makes  the  responsibility  of  everyone  Everestine  which  has  to  be
   performed with Olympian calmness.

27. The anguish expressed in the past and the role ascribed to  the  Judges,
   lawyers and the litigants is a matter of perpetual concern and the  same
   has to be reflected upon every moment.  An attitude of indifference  can
   neither be appreciated nor tolerated.  Therefore, the serviceability  of
   the institution gains significance.  That is the command of the  Majesty
   of Law and none should make any maladroit effort to create  a  concavity
   in  the  same.   Procrastination,   whether   at   the   individual   or
   institutional level, is a systemic disorder.  Its corrosive  effect  and
   impact is like a disorderly  state  of  the  physical  frame  of  a  man
   suffering from an incurable  and  fast  progressive  malignancy.   Delay
   either by the functionaries of the court  or  the  members  of  the  Bar
   significantly  exhibits  indolence  and  one  can  aphoristically   say,
   borrowing a line  from  Southwell  “Creeping  snails  have  the  weakest
   force”.  Slightly  more  than  five  decades  back,  talking  about  the
   responsibility of the lawyers, Nizer Louis[16] had put thus: -

           “I consider it a lawyer’s task to bring calm and  confidence  to
           the distressed client.  Almost  everyone  who  comes  to  a  law
           office is emotionally affected by  a  problem.   It  is  only  a
           matter  of  degree  and  of  the  client’s  inner  resources  to
           withstand the pressure.”

28. A few lines from illustrious Frankfurter is fruitful to recapitulate:

           “I think a person who throughout  his  life  is  nothing  but  a
           practicing lawyer fulfils a very great and essential function in
           the life of society.  Think of the responsibilities on  the  one
           hand and the satisfaction on the other, to be a  lawyer  in  the
           true sense.”

29.  In  a  democratic  set  up,  intrinsic  and  embedded  faith   in   the
   adjudicatory system is of seminal and pivotal concern.  Delay  gradually
   declines the citizenry faith in the system.  It is the faith  and  faith
   alone that keeps the  system  alive.   It  provides  oxygen  constantly.
   Fragmentation of faith has the effect-potentiality to bring in  a  state
   of cataclysm where justice may become a casuality.  A litigant expects a
   reasoned verdict from a temperate Judge but  does  not  intend  to  and,
   rightly so, to guillotine much of time at the altar of reasons.   Timely
   delivery of justice  keeps  the  faith  ingrained  and  establishes  the
   sustained stability.  Access to speedy justice is regarded  as  a  human
   right which is deeply rooted in the foundational  concept  of  democracy
   and such a right is not only the creation of  law  but  also  a  natural
   right.  This right can be fully ripened by the requisite  commitment  of
   all concerned with the system.  It cannot be  regarded  as  a  facet  of
   Utopianism because such a thought is likely to make the right  a  mirage
   losing the centrality of purpose.  Therefore, whoever has a role to play
   in the  justice  dispensation  system  cannot  be  allowed  to  remotely
   conceive of a casual approach.

30. In this context, it is apt to refer to a  passage  from  Ramdeo  Chauhan
   Alias Raj Nath v. State of Assam[17]: -

          “22. ... The judicial system cannot be allowed  to  be  taken  to
          ransom by having resort to imaginative and concocted  grounds  by
          taking advantage of loose sentences appearing in the evidence  of
          some of the witnesses, particularly at the stage of special leave
          petition.  The law insists on finality of judgments and  is  more
          concerned with the strengthening of  the  judicial  system.   The
          courts are enjoined upon to perform their duties with the  object
          of  strengthening  the  confidence  of  the  common  man  in  the
          institution entrusted with the administration  of  justice.   Any
          effort which weakens the system and  shakens  the  faith  of  the
          common  man  in  the  justice  dispensation  system  has  to   be
          discouraged.”

  31. In Zahira Habibulla H. Sheikh and another v.  State  of  Gujarat  and
      others[18], emphasizing on the  duty  of  Court  to  maintain  public
      confidence  in  the  administration  of  justice,  this   Court   has
      poignantly held as follows: -

           “35. ...Courts have always been considered to have an overriding
          duty to maintain  public  confidence  in  the  administration  of
          justice – often referred to as the duty to vindicate  and  uphold
          the “majesty of the law”.   Due  administration  of  justice  has
          always been viewed as  a  continuous  process,  not  confined  to
          determination of the particular case, protecting its  ability  to
          function as a court of law in the future as in  the  case  before
          it.”

      Thus, from the aforesaid, it is clear as day that everyone involved in
the system of dispensation of justice has to inspire the confidence  of  the
common man in the effectiveness  of  the  judicial  system.   Sustenance  of
faith has to be treated as spinal sans sympathy or indulgence.   If  someone
considers the task to be herculean,  the  same  has  to  be  performed  with
solemnity, for faith is the ‘elan vital’ of our system.

32. Coming to the proceedings  before  the  High  Court  from  the  date  of
   presentation of the second appeal till the date of admission, the manner
   in which it has progressed is not only perplexing but also shocking.  
We
   are inclined to think that the Court should not have shown indulgence of
   such magnitude by  adjourning  the  matter  when  the  counsel  for  the
   appellant was not present. 
 It is difficult to envision  why  the  Court
   directed fresh notice to the appellant when there was nothing suggestive
   for passing of such an order.  
The matter should have  been  dealt  with
   taking a recourse to the provisions in the Code of Civil Procedure.  
 It
   is also astonishing that the lawyers sought adjournments  in  a  routine
   manner and the court also acceded to  such  prayers.   
When  the  matter
   stood dismissed, though an application for restoration was filed, yet it
   was listed after a long lapse  of  time.   
Adding  to  the  misery,  the
   concerned official took his own time to put the file in order.  
From the
   Registrar  General’s  communication  it   is   perceptible   that   some
   disciplinary action has been  initiated  against  the  erring  official.
   
That is another matter and we do not intend  to  say  anything  in  that
   regard.  
But the fact that cannot be brushed  aside  is  that  there  is
   enormous delay in dealing with the case.  
Had timely  effort  been  made
   and due concern bestowed, it could have  been  avoided.   
There  may  be
   cases where delay  may  be  unavoidable.   We  do  not  intend  to  give
   illustrations, for facts in the said cases shall speak  for  themselves.
   
In the case  at  hand,  as  we  perceive,  the  learned  counsel  sought
   adjournment after adjournment in a nonchalant manner and the  same  were
   granted in a routine fashion.  
It is the duty  of  the  counsel  as  the
   officer of the court to assist the court in a properly  prepared  manner
   and not to seek unnecessary adjournments.   
Getting  an  adjournment  is
   neither an art nor science.   It  has  never  been  appreciated  by  the
   courts.  All who are involved in the justice dispensation system,  which
   includes the Judges, the lawyers, the  judicial  officers  who  work  in
   courts, the law officers of the State, the Registry and  the  litigants,
   have to show dedicated diligence so that a controversy is put  to  rest.
   Shifting the blame is not the cure.  
Acceptance  of  responsibility  and
   dealing with it like a captain in the frontier is the necessity  of  the
   time.  It is worthy to state that diligence brings satisfaction.   There
   has to be strong resolve in the mind to  carry  out  the  responsibility
   with devotion.  
A time has come  when  all  concerned  are  required  to
   abandon idleness and arouse oneself and see to it that the  syndrome  of
   delay does not erode the concept of dispensation of expeditious  justice
   which is  the  constitutional  command.   
Sagacious  acceptance  of  the
   deviation and necessitous steps taken for  the  redressal  of  the  same
   would be a bright lamp which would gradually become a laser beam.   
This
   is the expectation of the collective, and the said  expectation  has  to
   become a reality.  
Expectations are not to remain at the stage of  hope.
   They have to be metamorphosed to actuality.  
Long back,  Francis  Bacon,
   in his aphoristic style, had said, “Hope is good breakfast,  but  it  is
   bad supper”.  We say no more on this score.

33. Though we have dwelled upon the issue, yet we restrain from issuing  any
   directions, for the High Court as a constitutional Court  has  to  carry
   the burden and live up to the requisite expectations of  the  litigants.
   
It is also expected from the lawyers’ community to  see  that  delay  is
   avoided.  A concerted effort is bound to give  results.   
Therefore,  we
   request the learned Chief Justice of the High Court of Rajasthan as well
   as the other learned Chief Justices to conceive and adopt  a  mechanism,
   regard being had to the priority of  cases,  to  avoid  such  inordinate
   delays in matters which can really  be  dealt  with  in  an  expeditious
   manner.  
Putting a step forward is a step towards  the  destination.   A
   sensible individual inspiration and  a  committed  collective  endeavour
   would indubitably help in this regard.  Neither less, nor more.

34. The Special Leave Petition is, accordingly, disposed of.



                                                             ……………………………….J.
                            [K. S. Radhakrishnan]



                                                             ……………………………….J.
                                                     [Dipak Misra]

New Delhi;
January 29, 2013
-----------------------
[1]    (2005) 4 SCC 480
[2]    (1975) 1 SCC 774
[3]    (1976) 1 SCC 719
[4]    (2002) 6 SCC 33
[5]    (2011) 9 SCC 678
[6]    AIR 2001 SC 207
[7]    AIR 1999 SC 287
[8]    (1984) 2 SCC 556
[9]    AIR 1984 SC 618
[10]   (2011) 6 SCC 86
[11]   (1981) 3 SCC 166
[12]   AIR 1979 SC 1360
[13]   (1980) 1 SCC 98
[14]   AIR 1989 SC 542
[15]   (2005) 7 SCC 387
[16]   My life in Court (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.,
1961) p.213
[17]   (2001) 5 SCC 714
[18]   (2004) 4 SCC 158

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