Delhi HC Refuses to Entertain PIL Seeking Uniform Judicial Code in Courts Across Nation

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to entertain a PIL seeking a direction to the Law Commission to prepare a comprehensive report on uniform judicial code in consultation with high courts to make judicial terms, abbreviations, norms, phrases, court fee structure and case registration process uniform.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Yashwant Varma asked the petitioner how it can entertain the plea when the Supreme Court had treated the petition to be “dismissed as withdrawn”.

“Your petition was dismissed as withdrawn in the Supreme Court. If your matter was withdrawn from the Supreme Court and no liberty was granted, how can we entertain it? You go and get clarification from the Supreme Court,” the bench said.

To this, petitioner and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay said he had withdrawn the petition from the apex court and it’s a general language used in orders.

“How will I get clarification from the Supreme Court. Many times it happens, I have seen it,” he said.

However, the chief justice said he has seen it for the first time and reiterated that the petitioner should first seek clarification from the apex court.

This led the petitioner to withdraw the public interest litigation (PIL) from the high court.

“Petitioner seeks to withdraw the PIL to seek clarification from the Supreme Court. Petition is dismissed as withdrawn,” the bench said.

In the petition, Upadhyay said he has found huge differences in judicial terms, phrases, abbreviations, court fee and case registration process used in the Delhi High Court and the Allahabad High Court.

He said the Rajasthan High Court has two benches in Jaipur and Jodhpur and both the benches have several varied descriptions regarding case types (terminologies).

“Injury to citizens is extremely large because the court fees sought for similar matters and that of similar valuation in different states under the jurisdiction of different high courts are different.

“It must be noted that judicial equality is a matter of constitutional right, its differentiation based on the jurisdiction of courts violates the Right to Equality enshrined under Article 14 which states that ‘the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within India’ and Article 15 which states that ‘the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on the grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them’,” the plea said.

The PIL said unequal court fees in different states discriminate among citizens based on their place of birth and residence and it promotes “regionalism”, hence it is a clear violation of Articles 14 and 15.

Besides the Law Commission, as an alternative, the plea sought a direction to the Union Law Ministry to take appropriate steps to prepare a comprehensive report on uniform judicial code in consultation with high courts.

The plea also sought the constitution of an expert committee to prepare the comprehensive report.

“The courts are not only adopting different norms and procedures for case registration and using different judicial terms, phrases and abbreviations but also taking different court fees which is against the rule of law and right to justice,” the petition submitted.

On September 1, 2022, the apex court refused to entertain a similar PIL filed by the same petitioner seeking implementation of a uniform judicial code in courts across the country.

The top court referred to an earlier meeting of the chief ministers and the chief justices of all high courts and said though, the matter was discussed, but all high courts refused to implement it.

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