"Courts Blamed for Delays, But Lawyers and Litigants Also Responsible": Supreme Court

Mainstream
07-Jun-2024
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The Supreme Court on Friday highlighted the often overlooked role of lawyers and litigants in contributing to delays in case disposal, despite courts typically bearing the brunt of such criticisms.

A vacation Bench comprising Justices PV Sanjay Kumar and Prasanna B Varale made this observation when a lawyer sought an adjournment in a civil appeal filed in 2017 because the primary arguing counsel was unwell.

"Why do you not argue for him? Are you not attached to his office? Do you not read office pleadings?" Justice Kumar questioned the lawyer, who admitted he was unfamiliar with the case details as he had not reviewed the case brief.

Expressing frustration, Justice Kumar noted, "After 2019, this matter is coming up now. The lawyers are not ready to argue. What is this? Yesterday we sat till 12:30 PM and today I do not even think we would be able to sit till 12. Then courts are blamed for the delay. We are sitting on vacation but nobody is here to argue."

The Court encouraged young lawyers to seize opportunities to argue cases in the absence of their senior colleagues, especially during vacation hearings when many senior lawyers may be on holiday. "The youngsters must take this advantage when their seniors are doing holiday abroad," Justice Kumar emphasized.

The Bench suggested that it should become standard practice for junior lawyers to argue in place of absent seniors unless specific instructions dictate otherwise. The Court questioned whether the primary arguing counsel discouraged juniors from participating in arguments or reading office briefs. The lawyer assured the Court that juniors were indeed permitted to argue.

Granting the adjournment request, the Court insisted that the junior lawyer must argue the case when it is next heard. "You are not taking this opportunity. Seeking adjournment. We are posting it next week. You must argue. Even if your senior recovers, he will sit next to you and you should argue," Justice Kumar directed.

This directive underscores the Court's stance on fostering the growth of junior lawyers and addressing delays attributed to the legal fraternity. By urging young advocates to step up, the Supreme Court aims to mitigate case backlogs and promote a more efficient judicial process.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News writer