Chief Justice Of India Cracks Whip On Adjournment Culture Of Lawyers And Wants All Courts To Discourage It


Hon’ble H. L. Dattu, Chief Justice of India, has sent the clear warning that the prevalent adjournment culture is one of the main reasons for the huge pendency in the Courts.

The Learned Chief Justice of India has asked Judges of all courts to discourage the practice of frequent adjournments sought by lawyers to ensure speedy justice. He pointed out that the practice of discouraging adjournments by the Supreme Court had increased the disposal rate of cases in the Supreme Court to an all time high. He emphasized that 83,013 cases were disposed of in 2014 at an average of 227 cases per day.

It may be noted that the phenomenon of Judges decrying the adjournment culture is not a new one. In January 2008, Justice Swatanter Kumar, the then Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court had remarked “This is an unhappy state of affairs” as the day progressed and more requests for adjournment came in, with most of them being sought due to the absence of counsels or lack of preparation by lawyers. The Bench had to rise at 4 pm itself as no lawyer was prepared to argue any matter.

The same sentiment was also expressed by Justice R M Lodha, the former Chief Justice of India. On his very first day in office as Chief Justice of India, the learned Judge strongly conveyed that hearing in cases would not be adjourned on the mere asking of lawyers. “The culture of adjournment has to go. Seeking adjournment of scheduled hearing of cases at the drop of a hat must go. Unless a lawyer falls very ill, requests for adjournment must not be made” the former Chief Justice was reported to have said.

It is worth noting that even in the Tribunal, Justice (Retd.) Dev Darshan Sud, President, had passed an order stating that adjournment applications should be filed at least three weeks in advance and be accompanied with an affidavit. However, in view of representations by the Bar, the learned President agreed to keep the said order in abeyance until further orders.

The onus is now on the Bar and the litigants to ensure that adjournments are not sought on frivolous grounds and all attempts are made to ensure speedy disposal of matters.

24 comments on “Chief Justice Of India Cracks Whip On Adjournment Culture Of Lawyers And Wants All Courts To Discourage It
  1. Surrender SINGAL says:

    What is the remedy for an hapless Auction Purchaser deprived of possession of the property by SBI who got NPA auctioned and the petition for due compensation for such unauthorised illegal occupation remained sine die since 1996 and even after ordered on 11.09.2017 by Hon’ble SC to dispose it expeditiously but Hon’ble Company Judge not been able to take up most listed matter of the daily cause list, causing further agony to the suffering Auction Purchaser (Senior Citizen) by way of fatigue and loss time and health in commuting from distant rural area to Chandigarh ONLY to be frustrated with another DATE after DATE after DATE..?

  2. Dipakkumar J Shah says:

    I have seen culture adjusted in High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad that Party In Persons case adjourned with not fixed date for next date on Board. As per High Court Rules , as and when Party in person case is placed on Board , he has to be intimated to the Petitioner Party In person. Office of the Court takes shelter , over rides the requirement , also Hon. Justice do away, in giving fixed date to take this adjustment of putting the matter without date and the date not being intimated either way/ in court nor by letter or so, on the date of hearing party in person fails to attend on the date . The matter is dismissed for default!!! Whose default , you can appreciate the Judicial body and office!!!! This is how the adjust method are applied!!!!

  3. MRK Gandhi says:

    Adjournment culture is a bane for judicial disposals. Even IA for a stay hangs over for years shamelessly. Let data of each court be placed in public domain how many adjournments are allowed in each case. Name and shame of judicial official who grants adjournments liberally for mere asking. One thing higher judiciary should ensure that subordinate judiciary is not snubbed when senior advocates complain; may be they might be colleagues in profession.

  4. Rita says:

    Dear Dr.g.balakrishnan,
    You rightly said that Fundamental right of moving court under Art 226 is guaranteed as no one can stop an individual from moving a motion under Art 226 before the court for fast hearing or for any other FR or LR.
    My husband moved an application u/s 151 cpc rw Art 226 of COI for stopping the atrocities inflicted upon him by his department. Furtunately, remedy against atrocities lies in early hearing of the pending writ petitions 7457/2009 and 1719/2010. Perhaps the full fact is not before you to make you appreciate why early hearing is warranted. Some of the cases are disposed and some of the cases are kept pending in regular category. No rational no reasing. Our law minister has recently rightly said that justice is not accessible to those who cannot afford to engage lawyer or expensive lawyer.

  5. Dipakkumar J Shah says:

    Dear All,
    Funny thing of Court process is that , In High Court of Gujarat as far as I know and observed, that Hon. Judges keep the hearing pending for Party in Person . Per Process of High Court of Gujarat Rules , as and when Party in Person case is placed on the Board, Party In Person has to be notified the case would be put up Before Hon. Court . This is the process followed by Justices , npo date is given in the Open Court. Case put up any date without intimating to the Petitioner. Thus how the case is crushed to death??? There are many forces behind this. Board Person are the most culprits . Before dismissing the Case of Party in Person Justices also should look in the files and proper process is followed up or not. After 6 years and more My case is recently dismissed. See the Case Special Civil Application No 7736 of 2006. A Veridety of case where State Bank of India collected Rs 800 crores I believe for ATM Card charges in 2006 against the provisions of Law Indian Contract Act , Issued FREE OF CHARGE !!!! Who cares??! Appeal and Appeal till you die. Intrigues if this case pending also worth noting. See all the Judgments from Above case number.

    • bobjee kurien says:

      I wonder what he was doing during tenure and issues a direction as he is leaving his post.If he had issued the directions assoon as he was elevated wr could see the sincerity of his purpose.

      • Dipakkumar J Shah says:

        The thing is very clear. If you go to all orders, You will find that I had been asked to file Correct addresses of all Associate Banks of State Bank of India within 15 days ( two Weeks) . If not filed after two weeks the Petition will stand dismissed.!!!The case was adjourned on next after two weeks. I told the Then Justice on the Board, Justice J M Panchal and other Justice told that what was on web is written in Petition. But JUstice Mr J M Panchal told me that since I had not filed new all addresses the petition stand dismissed as per earlier order. But the matter was not automatically dismissed as per ordxer!!! What may be the meaning can be appreciated???!!! I pointed out the same pending case to Hon. Chief Justice and State Bank of India . Then after 8 years Board Department wake up and put the Matter on Board???!!! The most vulnerable Board department in High Court of Gujarat ruled by !!! They do not follow High Court Rules made for party in person at all !!!!

  6. VN KULKARNI says:


  7. Varaprasad Daitha says:

    The doors of justice are knocked only when a person feels that he was not done justice. Who has to do justice? If two individuals dispute over an issue that is among them only. If the disputes arise between Government body and individuals then the main reason will be failure on the part of the Government or the Government agency. Each Government authority is expected to do justice in his actions and it should respect the public. But what is going on now? Simple aristocracy, nepotism, inefficiency, red tape etc. all resulting in disputes knocking the doors of the justice. There are also other failures on the part of such authorities with whom certain discretionary powers are vested. They fail to implement in right earnest. Now it is for the judicial arena to act in strict sense. I do not mean to criticism the judiciary but it has its own constraints. Hence, the top most judicial authority should initiate steps to have a dialogue with the Government to sort out an acceptable principles of natural justice. A small step in this direction would eliminate more disputes and appeals.

    • bobjee kurien says:

      I want to co relate what happened in the recent past Paris was attacked by terrorists.Within a matter of three days law was amended to take care of the grave situation.In the huge deluge of ideas that were exchanged on whatsapp it was mentioned that the delivery of justice ss the main cause for corruption resulting in utter disregard for law in India. Name the person who is caught they always had a slow moving judicial system coming their rescue .

      I happened to talk to a leading lawyer he synchronised with my point of view . Just imagine if a tax demand of 10 crores is there ensure that it reaches the the high court .You need not pay the tax for the next 10 years ,In the mean while you have the unpaid tax for your business circulation at just a paltry rate of interest if you happen to loose the case .If you happen to loose it and take it up to the Supreme Court and it lies for the next 15 years .

      It is always beneficial to the law breaker to take up matters to various courts.What I said just now is for all to see and decide .Just imagine Kasab getting the lenieny of the court for staying alive for several years when the matter should have come to a quick end . Some times I feel the French revolution did a lot of good than harm.Tale of two cities brings out the truth.

      Yes one feels sad but to set right some thing of this nature a revolution is needed.In China it has done wonders .

      In the hind sight I sometimes feel constitution was framed by the lawyers who ensured that their interests in mind!!!!!

  8. Rita says:

    Dear Sirs,
    Its true. This is bench and bar both equally responssible for such unfortunate things. I am giving you one such unfortunate instance. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court has recently punished my husband for just only seeking early hearing of WP(C) 7457/2009 & 1719/2010 by imposing Rs. 5000/- in each case. It is shocking to know that bench had to rise at 4pm because no counsels were present for argument while on other hand petitioner has been penalised for seeking early hearing.

    • sorry Ritaji, Asking fast hearing court would not penalize, as asking fast hearing is your own fundamental right, under very Article 14 when you move under Art 226 .

      Your husband could have told that he moves Writ for what not for enormous delaying but for fast disposal and for which he moves mandamus before court.

      When moving motion you should be very clear under what grounds you want speedy hearing…if granted yes you had convinced the court it would definitely hear but if any one talks irrationally the court might get annoyed.

      Without annoying the hon bench you can always get fair hearing mdm.

  9. I.S.Verma says:

    Hon’ble Sir, The directions are in the interest of justice but not in the interest of the ‘MIGHTY BARS’ and that is the reason the the Judges or the Members of various Tribunals, who dare to follow such sermons/directions, are made scapegoats by the Bar by making false complaints which give the Higher-up God’s Gift to penalize such Hon’ble Judges/Members.
    First make provision for the safety of the Judges/Members and to penalize Bar Members.
    So far as seeking adjournment on the ground of absence of Advocate is concerned, there is an important decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court reported in AIR-under Caption ‘Advocates’ for the year 2001,but how many Courts or Tribunal have taken note of it. I think none except me, who had to face all short of harrassment. Anyhow, intention is not to publicize personal matter.

  10. GIRISH CHANDER says:

    we are wasting our prime national human time top talent knowledge intelligence all most valuable resources in adjournment( NOTHINGNESS) a blankness total blindness
    fast judgments can remove 90% criminal shelter tents

    • Varaprasad Daitha says:

      Yes Mr. Girish. Our country top men like leaders, intelligent top positioned people, and many of us cry for perfectionism quoting the examples what happened in other advanced countries. But the top bracketed men first ensure their position and then start sermons. One of the previous CVC chief stated that he would make the heads of the department as accountable to the lapses of their subordinates. At the end of his tenure he expressed his failure due to some already noticed situations. Similarly the top men in Judiciary, even hitherto positions also raised such remarks on unwarranted adjournments. The Government issues circulars / instructions not to grant too many adjournments. But in reality all had been followed only to put them in waste paper basket. The accountable persons had many lame excuses in the names of high definition words like “Natural Justice”, “Principles of Natural Justice” etc. There is a lot of difference between lip and heart. With this back ground scenario I would wonder how the PM would make his ideals work effectively. GOD ALONE CAN SAVE THIS COUNTRY.

      • Vanaprasadji, you may be right. Fact is every one need to be accountable. From the originating station on every one i mean need to be accountable.

        The Advocate asking for adjournment should file an affidavit with his reasons if not to the satisfaction of the court, the might reject the adjournment.

        i cite my own situation. Once in a CAT, my brother advocate requested me to take an adjournment in a matter, i asked him, what is the case about, as i told him if the bench rejected and asked me to argue, he told briefly the case.

        I heard, then i appeared before the bench and told the bench, that the advocate to appear in the matter is not able to be present for obvious reasons he is held up else where at a court some 250 kilometers away so he wanted n]me to take an adjournment, but bench said it is rejecting and dismissing the matter, i told the bench if it agrees i may be allowed to argue the matter, then the bench agreed and allowed me argue..I just brought to the notice that there was a procedural failure on the part of department when the UPSC granted to that officer an exemption which exempted was even accepted by the ministry of defense when so, how he could be denied the previous service period to be loaded in his military engineers service, the bench agreed and asked govt advocate for which he had no answer then that advocate anted adjournment as he has no instruction for which i argued how that vital point was omitted by the government then bench passed a verdict in my favor, then the same matter in appeal came before high court initially before justice Godbhole then before Jus RM Loda bench, there also i pressed the same and showed the piece of paper signed by the E-in C of MES, then Loda bench with jus Ms. Mathre dismissed govt appeal.

        the problem is when you do not have a right reply you generally look for adjournment, that is a mess, the adjournments create..

        therefore adjournments shd be discouraged at the first possible occasion is my view.

        • Varaprasad Daitha says:

          Balakrishnanji, you have elaborated my arguments in another angle. In your case you have prepared well or briefed well for arguments. The departmental representative not only did put any of his efforts but also the higher authorities did not care to look into the simple issue which you had highlighted. This was because the said department was not be ready to accept a defeat even though there was no case.

          It is also seen in many cases the Government side alone are seeking more adjournments than the bar members. I may put here that I worked in Incometax Department and in one of the training courses we were taught not to bother about too much stress on the work load since we could seek adjournments. In the same training schedule one eminent advocate of High Court was invited as a guest faculty and he had fully analysed how the documents were to be examined while studying the case and preparation of a notes. This piece of lecture helped me when I discharged my duties as Jr. AR of the department before the Tribunal where I had argued as many as 500+ cases in just 6 months.

  11. Rajesh Bhardwaj says:

    Sir, it is an extremely good step on the part of Hon. CJI, SC to advise the judiciary against granting frequent adjournments. Justice to be effective has to be quick . Only yesterday I read an income tax case of A.Y.-1988-89 vintage decided in Hon. SC.
    The lavishness with which ADJOURNMENTS are granted is not an ailment exclusive to narcotics case trials; courts at every level suffer from this predicament. The institutionalisation of generous dispensation of ADJOURNMENTS is exploited for varied considerations- said a bench of justice DK JAIN and JS KEHAR . Such a practice deserves complete abolishment.
    Legislature had enacted amendment in form of fourth proviso to section 309(2) of CrPC 1973 to tackle the problem but had not been notified for more than 3 years. The amended law said , ‘ no adjournment shall be granted at the request of a party, except where the circumstances are beyond the control of that party .” income tax department is a big litigant. To speed up the disposal of appeals before CIT(A) the words “where it is possible” appearing in section 250(6A) of income tax act, 1961 require to be omitted so that the first appeal before CIT (A) gets decided positively within a period of one year from end of FY in which such appeal is filed by tax payer.

    • B.S.Waghela says:

      I am talking about Incometax Department only. So far as IT appeals before the CIT(A)s are concerned my experience is that majority of Counsels are not interested in seeking adjournments ; it is CIT(A) who adjourns hearing; reasons are varied. Some of the reasons are : (1) One CIT(A) was reading Demand Notices only and was demanding 20% of demand raised; until the amount was settled he used to give frequent adjournments. (2) Another CIT(A) was giving frequent adjournments until he was promised some thing. (3) One CIT(A) was on Deputation for many years and had forgotten Incometax Law ; he used to hear appeals without opening appeal-folder and used to give adjournments. (4) One CIT(A) was recently promoted. She had no practical experience and was timid. For lack of self-confidence she used to adjourn hearings.
      There are many appeals which are pending for more than 10 years , that too after more than dozens of hearings. My suggestion is that (1) the CBDT should ensure that the appeals are disposed of in cronological order. (2) Reasons in each case where appeals are not taken up in cronological order should be ascertained and responsibility be fixed. (3) Reasons for not passing Appellate Orders after so many hearings should be ascertained in each case and responsibility be fixed. (5) Appeal should be disposed of within a period of ONE YEAR and IT Act should be amended for that purpose.

  12. B.S.Waghela says:

    (1) There should be maximum 3 adjournments, that too should be short , not in months; otherwise Courts should pass Ex-parte Orders. Habitual Advocates taking frequent adjournments should be Debarred from practice. Such Advocates get money for prolonging the matter.
    (2) Exemplary cost should be awarded in all cases, so that infructuous appeals will not be preferred.
    (3) Cause List should be restricted to cases that can be taken up in a single day.
    (4) There should be No Stay against any order appealed against.
    (4) This practice should be uniformly adopted through out India in all the Courts.

  13. Ashwani Joshi says:

    Hon’ble Sir, We the lawyers, request your honour to pull up the government also for not doing it’s bit of duty. There is an acute shortage of judges as result of which justice-seekers suffer a lot for many years. Frivolous litigation should be sternly dealt with while real one should be speedily dispensed off. How can a judge dispose of a long list of cases, sometime more than two hundred at trial court, in a single day ? The disposal of cases get delayed more for this reason than any other. A young man gets old for getting a small direction in Indian courts. And JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED. Thanks.

  14. Varaprasad Daitha says:

    Mr. Vasanthkumar rightly pointed out that the culture of adjournments was widely used in the Incometax Department Tribunals, High Courts and even in Supreme Court. One case which was challenged through a Writ Petition in November 1996 was finally decided in October 2005. All these years the Sr. Standing Counsel managed not to get the Writ petition posted since there was merit in the writ of the assessee. Similarly the cases were unnecessarily taken to higher forums in the form of appeals even though they were not to be filed in view of monetary restrictions yet the same were being filed. There were a group of 450+ such reference applications were pending at High Court level which were not to be filed.

    So the Supreme Court can think of 3 adjournment concept normally except in exceptional circumstances. It may also be pointed out that the adjournment culture had even spread to other proceedings in the Incometax and other departments. The CVC had stipulated certain restrictions on the adjournments. But the Inquiry Officers were allowing as many as and more than 25 adjournments without assigning any reason.

  15. K.VASANTKUMAR says:

    Such instructions should be made to be followed by the counsels appearing for the department. Then there would be no problem. Most of the time for some reason or other seek adjournment. In fact the department has delayed representation of appeals by nearly six years in some cases and they are not few. Why department is taking so much of time in representation. Is it the department or the counsels. Courts just go by the affidavits and condone the delay in representation. It is for the department to ensure that the appeals are represented without any delay. The representation of an appeal of 2009 creates a problem when the matter gets decided as the matter would relate not of 2009-10 but would be atlease five to six years prior. when the matter ultimately get decided after another five to six years or after ten years as per the time taken now to decide the appeals, the tax payer would be put to trouble in a case where the matter is decided in favour of the revenue.

  16. Nem Singh says:

    This has happen because of the action and decision taken be the representatives and some time by the court both act simultaneously and we cant blaim either of the body.

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