Calcutta, Nov. 16: The Supreme Court today told Calcutta High Court to pull up its socks and lessen the yawning gap between hearing a case and delivering the judgment.
The rap came as the apex court was hearing a special leave petition in an eviction case, in which the high court had taken three years to give its verdict.
The Supreme Court, while disposing of the special leave petition, directed high court chief justice V.S. Sirpurkar to be more attentive and quickly clear pending matters. It also sent a set of guidelines for smoother disposal of pending cases (see chart).
The case had first come up in an Alipore court in Calcutta in 1976. The owners of a house in Padmapukur, Jayeeta and Arun Roy, had moved an eviction petition against their tenant, Rabi Ranjan Gupta.
The Alipore court ruled against the tenant in 1988. A year later, he moved the high court and the appeal came up for hearing in 1997 before then judge S. Burman Roy. It concluded the same year, but it took the high court judge three years to give a verdict.
Burman Roy upheld the trial court’s order and issued a fresh eviction notice on the tenant. Gupta then moved a special leave petition before the Supreme Court in 2001, which came up for hearing on October 6.
An apex division bench of Justices Ashok Bhan and Altamas Kabir today said such delays might prompt opposing counsels to believe that the judge might not recall their submissions while delivering the judgment.
The bench set aside the high court’s verdict in the eviction case and sent the matter back to Sirpurkar, asking him to assign it before an appropriate bench for disposal.
“We request the chief justice of the high court to list this matter for fresh disposal. We would also request the judge before whom the case is listed to dispose of the matter within a period of three months,” the judges said.
• In 30 days, make list of cases with reserved judgments
• No verdict after two months' Chief justice should alert judge
• After three months of no verdict, party can demand immediate verdict
• After six months, party can seek withdrawal of case or transfer to another bench