Name of the Case: Reepak Kansal v Secretary-General, Supreme Court of India.
Judge: Justice Arun Mishra
Citation: 2020 SCC SC 558
Reepak Kansal filed a petition accusing the court of discrimination based on the financial status of lawyers and parties. He requested the court to issue a mandamus directing the Respondents to refrain from giving preference to cases filed by influential lawyers/petitioners and pointing out unnecessary defects in the cases filed by ordinary lawyers/petitioners. To support these allegations, the petitioner cited a number of instances. The court replied to these individually and went ahead to criticise the petitioner for taking such action.
1. In the first instance, the petitioner had filed a petition and three defects were pointed out by the court. One of them was that the court fee was not paid. The petitioner claims he had already paid the court fees but was forced to pay again. Despite the letter of urgency, it was not listed until much later. This was when he requested the Secretary of the court.
Firstly, the court mentioned that the petition was for the implementation of the One Nation One Ration Card Scheme. Secondly, it had been heard and decided 10 days after the filing. During this period, there were only 5 working days. Also, the nationwide lockdown meant reduced court staff, and, therefore, the petitioner’s claim of inordinate delay is unreasonable.
2. The second instance was about a petition not being listed for nearly 2 months, only because a copy of it was missing. Additionally, the registry has not given any updates in relation to this.
The court stated that the Registry had found several defects in this petition, which have not been corrected. Therefore, the petition is still lying with defects.
3. In another such instance, the Dealing Assistant pointed out defects in the application after six days of filing, even though an application for urgency was filed. The petitioner uploaded the documents again, and new defects were pointed out. Even when the defects were cured, the application for urgency was not considered. The matter was only verified and listed when the petitioner called and requested the Branch Officer.
In this instance, the court stated that there were many defects pointed out by the Registry, which were removed, but some other major defects still existed. The application was not proper, and the heading did not tally with the subject. When the petition was filed after correction of these defects, the matter was heard and dismissed off within 10-11 days. The petitioner has not mentioned this here, instead stating that a computer-generated date for the next month was given. The court further stated that the petitioner was responsible for 12-13 days of delay in removing the defects.
4. The last instance was regarding the case of Arnab Ranjan Goswami v UOI. Here, no defects were pointed out but a special supplementary list was released. The petitioner claims that no procedure was followed by the Registry for urgent hearing during the lockdown. He had filed a complaint in this regard to the Secretary-General, but it was of no avail.
The court pointed out that this case was listed urgently as it pertained to liberty and freedom of media. This is in sharp contrast to what the petitioner had claimed. The court expressed disappointment on the petitioner’s conduct, especially considering the current situation of a global pandemic. It stated that there was no reason to accuse the court of discrimination. It went on to state that the petitioner had filed the application in a hurry. Even after filing the petition, he wanted six weeks to collect evidence. This plea was rejected by the court. The court felt that the petitioner should have filed the application only after collecting the requisite evidence. It further stated that while the petitioner had pleaded the Secretary General and various Registrars, the writ was filed against the court, when it should have been the court through Secretary-General. This indicates careless conduct.
The court then addressed the allegations of ‘pointing out unnecessary defects’ and ‘inordinate delays’. It stated that defective petitions are filed and then the petitioners insist on them being filed urgently. They then put unnecessary pressure on the Court Assistants dealing with the case. Cases are being listed despite the ongoing pandemic and the reduced staff. Especially during this period, it was inconsiderate of the petitioner to make such allegations on the court. The court also criticised the general practice of blaming the court for delay when the petitioners sometimes take years to cure defects. The court went on to criticise the lawyer’s attitude towards the Registry, blaming them unnecessarily.
It cited the case of R Muthukrishnan v The Registrar General of the High Court of Judicature at Madras, describing the behaviour expected from ‘gentlemen lawyers’. The court then urged the members of the ‘noble fraternity’ (the legal profession) to respect themselves. They are an ‘intellectual class of the society’ and so they are expected to be exemplary. The Registry is an arm of the court and a part of the system. Therefore, it has to work in tandem and mutual reverence. Having stated these reasons, the court found no ground to entertain the petition. It was dismissed. The court also imposed a cost of Rs 100 as a token to remind the petitioner of his responsibility towards the profession. Additionally, he ought not to have preferred such a petition.
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