The Supreme Court last week delivered two judgments which had been reserved quite a while back.
Justices AK Sikri and Abhay Manohar Sapre had reserved judgment in Competition Commission of India v Co-ordination Committee of Artists and Technicians of W.B. Film and Television & Ors, a Civil Appeal, on November 23 last year. The bench delivered the judgment on March 7, more than three months after reserving it.
Justices SA Bobde and Ashok Bhushan reserved judgment in IMAX Corporation v M/s E-city Entertainment (I) Pvt Ltd – also a Civil Appeal and an arbitration matter on December 15 last year, and delivered it only on March 10, more than two and a half months after reserving it.
These were the two instances of delay among the twenty judgments delivered by the Supreme Court last week.
The Arrears Committee constituted by the Central Government on the recommendation of the Chief Justices’ Conference, in its report of 1989-90, had recommended that reserved judgments should ordinarily be pronounced within a period of six weeks from the date of conclusion of the arguments.
If, however, a reserved judgment is not pronounced for a period of three months from the date of the conclusion of the arguments, the committee had recommended that the Chief Justice be authorised to either post the case for delivering judgment in open court or withdraw the case and post it for disposal before an appropriate bench.
The Supreme Court, in Anil Rai v State of Bihar, relied on this above recommendation, to direct the High Courts to avoid delay in delivering their judgments. As pronouncement of the judgment is a part of justice dispensation system, it has to be done without delay, the Court had held in that case. Justices KT Thomas and RP Sethi had observed,
“Delay in disposal of the cases facilitates the people to raise eyebrows, sometime genuinely which, if not checked, may shake the confidence of the people in the judicial system.”
In Anil Rai, the Supreme Court laid down that in case the judgment is reserved and pronounced later by a high court, a column be added in the judgment where, on the first page, after the cause-title, date of reserving the judgment and date of pronouncing it be separately mentioned by the court officer concerned.
The Anil Rai bench also required the Chief Justice of a High Court to circulate the statement of such cases in which the judgments have not been pronounced within a period of six weeks from the date of conclusion of the arguments amongst the judges of the High Court for their information.
“Such communication be conveyed as confidential and in a sealed cover”, the bench had held.
It is natural to expect that the Supreme Court itself follows what it has directed the High Courts to follow, although the delay in two cases out of twenty judgments may be considered an aberration.
Bar & Bench tracked fifteen cases in which judgments were reserved last week. Of these, judgment was pronounced in one civil SLP – Rufina D’Souza & Ors v Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai & Ors – by Justice AM Khanwilkar before the end of the week itself.
Whether the judgments in the remaining fourteen cases are delivered within six weeks remains to be seen.
The fourteen cases are as follows:
- Kundla Press and Oil Mill Pvt. Ltd. v State of Gujarat & Ors. A Civil SLP, filed in 2016, relating to leases, govt. contracts & contracts by local bodies. It was heard by Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, who reserved it on March 6.
- Dinshaw Rusi Mehta and ANR v. State of Maharashtra and Ors. A Civil SLP, filed in 2015, dealing with religious and charitable endowments. It was heard by Justices RK Agrawal and Abhay Manohar Sapre, who reserved it on March 7.
- The Indian Institute of Information Tec v Dr. Anurika Vaish & Ors etc. A Civil SLP, filed in 2016, dealing with a service matter. It was heard by Justices Kurian Joseph and R Banumathi, who reserved it on March 7.
- State of Uttar Pradesh v Sunil. A Criminal Appeal, filed in 2011, dealing with State’s appeal against acquittal. It was heard by Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Rohinton Fali Nariman, who reserved it on March 7.
- Krishnegowda & Ors v State of Karnataka by Arkalgud Police. A Criminal Appeal, filed in 2006. It was heard by Justices NV Ramana and Prafulla C Pant, who reserved it on March 7.
- Formula One World Championship Ltd v Commissioner of Income Tax International. A Civil Appeal, filed this year, dealing with direct taxes matter under the Income Tax Act, 1961. It was heard by Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, who reserved it on March 7.
- Karunanidhi v Seetharama Naidu & Ors. A Civil SLP, filed in 2013, dealing with a personal law matter. It was heard by Justices RK Agrawal and AM Sapre, who reserved it on March 8.
- Mahaveer Kumar Jain v Commnr. Of Income Tax, Jaipur. A Civil Appeal, filed in 2006, dealing with a direct tax matter – deductions/exemptions. It was heard by Justices RK Agrawal and AM Sapre, who reserved it on March 8.
- Ahmad @ MD. Ahmad v MD. Osman. A Civil Appeal, filed in 2008, dealing with Rent Act matter. It was heard by Justices R Banumathi and Mohan Shantanagoudar, who reserved it on March 8.
10. Palanisamy and Ors v K.Dhanpalan. A Civil Appeal filed in 2010, against an order of the Bar Council of India. It was heard by Justices Dipak Misra, AM Khanwilkar and Mohan Shantanagoudar, who reserved it on March 9.
11. P.Financial Corporation v Anil Garg & Ors. A Civil Appeal, filed in 2008, dealing with recovery of debts/bank loans due under the banks and financial institutions. It was heard by Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha, who reserved it on March 9.
12. Nithya Anand Raghavan v State of NCT of Delhi & ANR. A Criminal SLP, filed in 2016, dealing with a Habeas Corpus matter. It was heard by Justices Dipak Misra, AM Khanwilkar and Mohan Shantanagoudar, who reserved it on March 9.
13. Tapan Kumar Dutta v Commnr. Of Income Tax, West Bengal. A Civil Appeal, filed in 2007, dealing with direct tax matters under the Income Tax Act 1961. It was heard by Justices RK Agrawal and AM Sapre, who reserved it on March 9.
14. Karunakaran v. V Padmini & Ors. A Civil SLP, filed in 2014, dealing with land laws and agricultural tenancies. It was heard by Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta, who reserved it on March 10.
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