Gujarat High Court calls for reexamination of rule allowing lawyers to seek adjournment by filing leave notes, sick notes

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The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked its Rules Committee to reconsider Rule 132 of the Gujarat High Court Rules that allows an advocate to seek adjournment in a case by furnishing a ‘leave note’ or a ‘sick note’.

A division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J Shastri voiced its concerns over the misuse of the said norm by advocates to seek adjournments and asked the Rules Committee to evolve a mechanism to ensure there is no misuse of the Rule.

“We are not happy with the manner in which leave notes and sick notes are being circulated. We will refer it to Rule committee as it requires consideration. Otherwise, this is a glaring case of misuse,” CJ Kumar remarked.

The bench was hearing a Letter Patents Appeal (LPA) wherein the advocate for the party aggrieved by the orders of a single-judge had circulated a leave note for adjourning the case.

However, the counsel appearing for the opposite party took strong exception to the leave note and said this has been happening in this matter most of the times.

The bench, therefore, sought a report from the registry with regard to the concerned advocate’s leave notes and sick notes.

Subsequently, a report was submitted by the registry indicating that the concerned advocate had applied for 18 leave notes and 6 sick notes from January 2022 till date.

“Till date, this advocate has sought leaves for 34 days in all,” the bench pointed out.

The bench further referred to Rule 132 of the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993, which allows circulation of leave notes and sick notes by advocates for not attending court proceedings. It noted that the rules do not prescribe as to the outer-limit of leave note and sick note which can be circulated.

“The rules empowers an Administrative judge to grant leave not exceeding one week. In the teeth of there being no embargo on the number of leave notes or days on which leave can be granted, this rule needs to be re-examined. We refer this issue to the Rule committee to examine necessarily in consultation with the Bar Association to evolve a proper mechanism and to avoid any misuse,” the bench ordered.

As regards the instant case, the bench rejected the leave note circulated by the advocate and kept the matter for hearing on Thursday.

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