The Gujarat High Court Monday issued show cause notices to ten judicial officers in the State asking for an explanation as to why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them for failing to dispose of a 45-year-old suit, despite express orders of the High Court [Patel Ambalal Kalidas vs Patel Motibhai Kalidas].
A bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J Shastri expressed shock to note that 16 judicial officers, who had from time-to-time presided over a court in Anand district from December 2004 till date, failed to conclude the proceedings in the suit which was instituted in 1977.
“The explanations offered by the judicial officers cannot be accepted and it only requires to be deprecated. We call upon the judicial officers to file their affidavit in reply to show cause why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them for wilfully disobeying this court’s orders,” the bench ordered.
The order of the High Court to dispose of the suit latest by December 31, 2005 was blatantly violated, ignored and not implemented, the Court said.
“Though the proceedings moved at a snail’s pace, the matter was listed for arguments in 2016. The current status of the suit as per district court information system from November 2016 till date the matter has been adjourned for final arguments. There has been no reason for adjourning the case,” the bench noted.
The bench had on December 16 ordered the Registrar General of the High Court to call for explanation from all the judicial officers, who presided the court before which the suit has been pending from December 2004 till today.
Pursuant to the said the directions, a report was submitted before the judges, with individual responses from the judicial officers.
The Court noted that from December 2004 till date, a total of 16 judicial officers presided over the concerned court, of which 10 continue to serve at various positions in the judiciary and 6 have retired. The bench also took into account the fact that 2 of these judicial officers have expired.
In its order, the bench noted the explanations given by PP Mokashi, who is presently an additional district judge and one Sunil Chaudhari, who is serving as a principal district judge now.
As per the report, the present suit was pending before Mokashi from September 2009 till December 2009 and before Chaudhari from July 2015 till December 2015. Yet, both of them said they didn’t deal with the suit and were also not aware of the orders of the High Court to dispose it of expeditiously.
“The explanation offered by these two officers, if perused would indicate that in a most cavalier manner a reply has been given. It is incumbent upon the officers to check the records to ascertain if any specific order has been given by the HC. Also, the Registry is responsible to maintain the said order in the records. If this has not been done, it would indicate the sorry state of affairs in which the matters are being dealt with by trial judges,” the bench observed.
The report further indicated that this suit was pending before various judges for various periods ranging from 99 days to 1,305 days.
Another judge JR Dodiya served as a principal judge at Anand from May 2018 to October 2018, February 2019 to May 2019 and June 2019 to May 2022. She too in her explanation stated that the directions of the High Court might not have come to her knowledge at that time.
The bench, therefore, issued show cause notices to all the 10 judicial officers, giving them time till January 15 to file their responses.