Delay in India judiciary is common problem. Right of speedy justice has been accepted and reiterated as one of the fundamental rights by Supreme Court on various occasions. However, all the concerns about the speedy trial are yet to be seen in action effectively, as lower courts still legging much behind in implementing guide lines provided by the apex court.
Yet, again Supreme Court in the matter of Ramrameshwari Devi v/s. Nirmala Devi (2011 (8) SCC 249 : 2011 (6) Scale 677) after observing the prolonged trial in the matter, appointed leading Senior Advocate Dr. Arun Mohan as amicus curiae to provide guide line for speedy trials.
The appointment of Dr. Arun Mohan for the guide line was most appropriate as he has authored a voluminous book (in 2 volumes) on the same subject.
After discussing the question in detail, with the help of the amicus curiae, the Supreme Court has laid down the following guide line.
A. Pleadings are foundation of the claims of parties. Civil litigation is largely based on documents. It is the bounden duty and obligation of the trial judge to carefully scrutinize, check and verify the pleadings and the documents filed by the parties. This must be done immediately after civil suits are filed.
B. The Court should resort to discovery and production of documents and interrogatories at the earliest according to the object of the Act. If this exercise is carefully carried out, it would focus the controversies involved in the case and help the court in arriving at truth of the matter and doing substantial justice.
C. Imposition of actual, realistic or proper costs and or ordering prosecution would go a long way in controlling the tendency of introducing false pleadings and forged and fabricated documents by the litigants. Imposition of heavy costs would also control unnecessary adjournments by the parties. In appropriate cases the courts may consider ordering prosecution otherwise it may not be possible to maintain purity and sanctity of judicial proceedings.
D. The Court must adopt realistic and pragmatic approach in granting mesne profits. The Court must carefully keep in view the ground realities while granting mesne profits.
E. The courts should be extremely careful and cautious in granting ex-parte ad interim injunctions or stay orders. Ordinarily short notice should be issued to the defendants or respondents and only after hearing concerned parties appropriate orders should be passed.
F. Litigants who obtained ex-parte ad interim injunction on the strength of false pleadings and forged documents should be adequately punished. No one should be allowed to abuse the process of the court.
G. The principle of restitution be fully applied in a pragmatic manner in order to do real and substantial justice.
H. Every case emanates from a human or a commercial problem and the Court must make serious endeavour to resolve the problem within the framework of law and in accordance with the well settled principles of law and justice.
I. If in a given case, ex parte injunction is granted, then the said application for grant of injunction should be disposed of on merits, after hearing both sides as expeditiously as may be possible on a priority basis and undue adjournments should be avoided.
J. At the time of filing of the plaint, the trial court should prepare complete schedule and fix dates for all the stages of the suit, right from filing of the written statement till pronouncement of judgment and the courts should strictly adhere to the said dates and the said time table as far as possible. If any interlocutory application is filed then the same be disposed of in between the said dates of hearings fixed in the said suit itself so that the date fixed for the main suit may not be disturbed.
These guideline are good enough to curtail many delays and mishaps. However, such guide line is never elaborately explained and circulated to the lower courts by High Courts. Therefore such guidelines do not see the light of the day, or interpreted very differently by the lower courts then the intended by the Supreme Court.
Following full text judgment of the Supreme Court.
Justice, Courts and Delays – Website of Dr. Arun Mohan
Analysis of the legal position in India on speedy trial versus judicial delay
3.2 cr cases pending in HCs, lower courts – Times of India , December 20,2011
Right To Speedy Trial