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Subordinate Judiciary Falters- High Court admonishes CJM for not following precedents and ignoring administrative orders

The new Judges in the subordinate Judiciary often make mistakes which are detrimental to the fate of the litigants. Their error in procedure and findings make their orders unsustainable and result in appeals in higher forum which increases the pendency & results in clogging of the Courts. The reasons for mistakes in the lower judiciary is undue haste, work load & lack of practical knowledge of the Judicial Procedures, poor understanding of the principles of Interpretation of Law & non adherence to Precedents and Judicial Discipline.

It would be relevant to refer to the case of Sanjay & Ors. v. State of UP & Anr.  (Application u/s 482 No. 18422 of 2020) recently decided by the Allahabad High Court on 18 January 2021. The Court pulled up the Magistrate for issuing summoning order in Pre-Printed Format. The brief facts of the case are that a summoning order was mechanically passed by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Agra, on a printed-proforma.

The applicants assailed the said notice/ order in the Allahabad High Court as:
Vague, ambiguous and nullity and have pleaded for quashing the same. On enquiry by the High Court as to why he had issued summons on a printed proforma despite repeated orders of the High Court, the Magistrate submitted that due to huge work-load and by inadvertent mistake the summoning order had been issued on a printed proforma. He also tendered an unconditional apology for his mistake. However, the Bench of the High Court was not satisfied with the explanation tendered by the Magistrate & remarked thus:

"The explanation given by the concerned Magistrate is not acceptable because if a Judge makes such a mistake, then from where will the general public get fair justice. A Judge acts like a God, he/she should not make mistakes due to haste or excess of work. How will a normal man get justice when a judge makes a mistake because of the excess of his/her work? At the present time, only from the temple of justice like Courts, everyone hopes for right and fair justice. "

It is more than true that the judiciary is a temple for the litigants who pray for justice & redressal of their grievances before the Gods. The Bench mercifully accepted the apology tendered by the magistrate but warned him to remain more careful and cautious in future and accordingly set aside the impugned order of the CJM. The Court relied on the earlier precedents in Vishnu Kumar Gupta & Anr. v.State of UP & Anr. and other in Application U/s 482 No. 41617 of 2019  vide order dated 11th November, 2020 wherein cognizance/ summoning orders passed on printed proforma were set aside as they were passed mechanically without application of mind & without giving satisfactory reasons. It is noteworthy that the High Court had also issued circulars, on the administrative side, restraining the subordinate judiciary from passing cognizance/ summoning orders on a printed proforma without application of mind.

A question arises as to why such mistakes occur in our subordinate Judiciary. It is common knowledge that the District Courts are overburdened. The number of cases listed for hearing is
exceptionally high. The poor assistance from Bar is a matter of grave concern. A lot of precious time of the court is wasted on trivial issues and disposal of frivolous applications and adjournments. It is equally true that the subordinate staff actually fills in the notices & does other procedural works. The work environment in the local courts is not conducive to judicial research & correct appreciation and application of established law.

There are no handbooks available with the judges for ready reference of the various circulars & administrative orders issued by the jurisdictional High Court, which has full supervisory control over the subordinate judiciary. A judge cannot be expected to remember all the guidelines & circulars issued by the High Court. The district courts are not equipped with the state of art technology and do not have speedy access to the precedents and applicable law. The personal library of the judges is scanty & ill equipped.

Law is not static but fast evolving. The judges at the District Courts are not abreast of the latest trends & Judgments of the jurisdictional High Court & the Apex Court. To address this vital issue, a regular fortnightly internal seminar should be conducted with the District Judge chairing the same in collaboration with the District Bar and threadbare discussions on various provisions should be held and deliberations on the latest pronouncements of the jurisdictional High Court & the Apex Court should be made. This process of "Enlightenment" will infuse legal acumen for better understanding & application of the current Law & reduce inadvertent errors in the orders of the subordinate judiciary.

Written By: Inder Chand Jain
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 8279945021

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