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Case Law Details

Case Name : Ram Nath and Ors. Vs Deputy Director Of Consolidation District Hardoi and Ors. (Allahabad High Court)
Appeal Number : Consolidation case No.  802 of 2015
Date of Judgement/Order : 31/08/2021
Related Assessment Year :

Ram Nath and Ors. Vs Deputy Director Of Consolidation District Hardoi and Ors. (Allahabad High Court)

It is common practice in the District Courts and the High Court for the advocates to pass  “‘Illness Slip’ and the matter is usually passed over by the Courts. It is likely that the advocate may be unwell but there is also likelihood that the ‘illness slip’ is just a device/ruse employed by the said advocate to circumvent hearing/further proceedings of the Court.

With mounting pendency and clogging of the whole judicial system, such latent device for seeking Adjournment by using this ‘device’ is indeed unhealthy and unwarranted. It is pertinent that  as a part of our Government’s initiative for ease of doing business certain reforms are being implemented to limit the number of adjournment in the Courts to enable timely disposal of cases in the courts. A maximum three adjournment are permissible for the disposal of a case. It is indeed a matter of grave concern that there is a backlog of 2.19 crore cases and it will take more than a century to clear the said pendency at the current pace. In fact, henceforth in commercial courts a new practice is being introduced wherein presiding judges will get Red, Green and Orange indicators representing the number of adjournment given in the case.

Recently, the Allahabad High Court in Consolidation case No.  802 of 2015 Ram Nath And Ors. vs. Deputy Director of Consolidation District Hardoi And Ors. decided in 13th August, 2021 dealt with the menace of illness slips. The brief facts are that the counsel of the petitioner sent illness slip although he was present in the Court premises. The Court summoned the said counsel and enquired the reason of his ‘undesirable’ act to which he submitted that he was having a headache, therefore, he had sent an illness slip.

The Court was not satisfied with the explanation offered by the counsel and deprecating the practice observed thus:

“This act of Sri Chandra Has Mishra is deprecated and it is absolutely unacceptable that once a counsel is present in the Court he ought not to have sent an illness slip, such practice cannot be accepted. If at all the learned counsel for the petitioner was not well, he could himself had stood up and inform the Court rather to have sent an illness slip in the morning and remain in the Court

premises throughout the day. It is in these circumstances that the counsel for the respondent had raised an objection which is well justified and the act and conduct of Sri Chandra Has Mishra does not go well with this Court. Sri Chandra Has Mishra has remain unapologetic and has made submissions to justify his conduct which is not acceptable to the Court.”

The Court adjourned the matter with a specific order that no further adjournment shall be granted to either of the parties and in case if the petitioner or his counsel

has any difficulty, they can make alternate arrangements.The Court forwarded a copy of the said order to the Chairman of the Elders Committee of the Oudh Bar Association to inform the Committee how the members of the Bar are behaving and indulging in such unfair practice.

It is apposite to refer to the case of the Apex Court in Rais Ahmad vs State Of U.P. & Ors decided on 13/08/1999. The Court dealt with the tradition of the Allahabad High Court with regards to ‘ Illness Slips’ and observed thus:

“The tradition in the Allahabad High Court is that an “Illness Slip” is usually given to the Court Master or the Bench Secretary of the Court and it is expected of the Bench Secretary that he would bring it to the notice of the court either at the beginning of the day or at the time when the case is called out and taken up for hearing. Once the “Illness Slip” is brought to the notice of the Court, the case, traditionally, is adjourned.

“Traditions” of a court are built upon the edifice of cooperation between Judges and lawyers over a period of years. “Traditions”, are doctrines, customs, practices, beliefs and usages which are handed down from generation to generation. As pointed out earlier, one of the traditions of the Allahabad High Court, which is now more than 130 years old and has seen many generations of lawyers, is that a case would be adjourned on the “Illness Slip” of a counsel. This and other traditions of the Court bind the lawyers and Judges in a sacred relationship of mutual trust and understanding. The adjournment of a case on the “Illness Slip” reflects the court’s respect for the counsel and its consciousness that a lawyer or counsel, though an officer of the court, is nevertheless a human being who can fall ill. It also reflects the faith and trust the lawyer has in the Court that the Court would, on his “illness slip”, adjourn the case.

It is contended on behalf of the respondents that the facility of adjournment available to the counsel on the ground of “Illness Slip” is a facility which has been abused more often than not, so much so that interim orders once obtained have notoriously been found to have continued for a long time merely on the “illness slip” and, therefore, the facility of adjournment on this basis should be abolished so that the litigant whose counsel has fallen ill, may make alternative arrangement and the hearing of the case may not be affected. That may be true in rare cases and in that situation the Judges would not act upon the “Illness Slip” if it is found, from a mere look at the running order sheet, that the facility has been misused or abused. But, isolated examples would not be destructive of the noble tradition.”

The Apex Court laid down the rule of Faith, Mutual Trust & Honesty between the Bench and the Bar. The said judgment of the Apex  Court is based on Respect to the noble profession of the Bar. But sadly the same was found missing in the instant case of the Allahabad High Court and the Court vide its Order dated 13/08/2021 has rightly deprecated this breach of trust.

The Ministry of Law & Justice and the Supreme Court of India should issue requisite guidelines for curbing practice of unwanted adjournment in the name of ‘illness slips’ from the entire judicial system so that the cases are disposed off at the earliest and the common man develops confidence in our Judicial system.

High Court deprecates the Illness Slip Device

FULL TEXT OF THE JUDGMENT/ORDER OF ALLAHABAD HIGH COURT

Sri Chandra Has Mishra, learned counsel for the petitioners sent an illness slip.

Sri Vishun Narayan, learned counsel for the private respondents submits that Sri Chandra Has Mishra is present outside the Court yet has sent an illness slip.

The Court had required Sri Vishun Narayan to call Sri Chandra Has Mishra who has now appeared and he was put to a specific query whether he is appearing in W.P. No. 802 (Consolidation) of 2015. He submits that he does appear in the matter and he further submits that though he had come to the Court but now he is having a headache, therefore, he has sent an illness slip. This act of Sri Chandra Has Mishra is deprecated and it is absolutely unacceptable that once a counsel is present in the Court he ought not to have sent an illness slip, such practice cannot be accepted.

If at all the learned counsel for the petitioner was not well, he could himself had stood up and inform the Court rather to have sent an illness slip in the morning and remain in the Court premises throughout the day.

It is in these circumstances that the counsel for the respondent had raised an objection which is well justified and the act and conduct of Sri Chandra Has Mishra does not go well with this Court.

Sri Chandra Has Mishra has remain unapologetic and has made submissions to justify his conduct which is not acceptable to the Court.

In the aforesaid facts and circumstances, where the learned counsel for the petitioner is reluctant to argue, for the aforesaid reasons, the matter is being adjourned for 20.08.2021.

It is made clear that no further adjournment shall be granted to either of the parties and in case if the petitioner or his counsel has any difficulty, they can make alternate arrangements.

A copy of this order may also be forwarded to the Chairman of the Elders Committee of the Oudh Bar Association to inform the Committee how the members of the Bar are behaving and indulging in such unfair practice.

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