HC expresses regret to retired judicial officer for agony faced due to litigant’s conduct

The Delhi High Court has expressed regret to a retired judicial officer, who was appointed as a local commissioner to record evidence in a divorce case, for the agony suffered due to the conduct of a litigant who made a “mockery” of the court system with her remarks against the officer.

The high court said the conduct of the litigant woman clearly smacks of mala fide and total disrespect for the officers appointed by it and to the court process. It imposed Rs 25,000 as costs on her to be deposited with the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee within four weeks.

Justice Navin Chawla refused to grant any further indulgence to the woman to lead evidence in the divorce case. He said the evidence of the parties stand concluded and there is no need for appointing a substitute local commissioner (LC).

The high court took into consideration a letter written to the registrar general by retired principal and sessions judge (retired) R Kiran Nath, who was appointed as the LC to record evidence under the Hindu Marriage Act, seeking to recuse herself from further proceedings.

The ex-judicial officer said the WhatsApp messages sent by the woman, and unfortunately even by her counsel, were all “disrespectful, insinuating, mocking and alleging bias”.

After going through the messages, the high court said, clearly, the woman litigant was making a mockery of the court system by first seeking a substitution of the LC appointed by the family court which was agreed to as a matter of indulgence by this court.

The high court said now the woman was making allegations against the substitute LC as well, and added she appeared to be “habitually making instigating remarks, not only against the LC but also against the counsel appearing for the respondent herein (woman’s estranged husband). This practice needs to be dealt with firmly”.

The woman’s counsel tendered an apology for her conduct and suggested that another LC be appointed for recording the evidence of the parties.

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However, Justice Chawla refused to entertain the request and said, “I see absolutely no reason to grant further indulgence to the petitioner for her conduct clearly smacks of mala fide and total disrespect to the officers appointed by this court and to the court process.”

The high court also discharged the retired officer from acting as LC in the divorce proceedings.

“This court expresses its regret to the Local Commissioner for the agony she had to suffer because of the appointment made by this court,” Justice Chawla said.

The high court said the family court shall proceed further with the divorce petition in accordance with the law.

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