Timeline for Judgment Pronouncement under Order XX not Applicable to High Courts: SC

Recently, the Supreme Court held that the timeline regarding pronouncement of Judgment provided under Order XX of the CPC is not applicable to the High Court. The Supreme Court also issued several directions to all the Chief Justices for monitoring the delay in pronouncement of Judgments.

The Judgment came in an appeal preferred against the Judgment of the Division Bench of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, which set aside the Judgment of the Single Judge, on the ground that the Judgment delivered by the Single after 9 months of reserving the same. The Division Bench relied on the proviso to Order XX Rule 1, which provides that Judgment should be delivered within 30 days of reserving it.

A Bench of Hon’ble Justice RF Nariman and Hon’ble Justice BR Gavai, referred to the case of Anil Rai vs State of Bihar reported in 2001 (7) SCC 318 and held that mandate of Order of XX is not applicable to the High Courts.

In view of the above the Supreme Court allowed the Appeal and set aside the Judgment of Division Bench. The Supreme Court has also issued following directions to Chief Justices of all High Court:

  1. Appropriate direction be issued to the Registry that in cases where the Judgment is reserved and pronounced later on, a column be added mentioning the date of reserving the Judgment and date of pronouncement of Judgment.
  2. On the administrative side directions be issued to the Court Officers to provide details of reserved Judgments monthly, which are pending pronouncement.
  3. On noticing that after conclusion of the arguments the judgment is not pronounced within a period of two months, the concerned Chief Justice shall draw the attention of the Bench concerned to the pending matter. The Chief Justice may also see the desirability of circulating the statement of such cases in which the judgments have not been pronounced within a period of six weeks from the date of conclusion of the arguments amongst the Judges of the High Court for their information. Such communication be conveyed as confidential and in a sealed cover.
  4. Where a judgment is not pronounced within three months, from the date of reserving it, any of the parties in the case is permitted to file an application in the High Court with prayer for early judgment. Such application, as and when filed, shall be listed before the Bench concerned within two days excluding the intervening holidays.
  5.  If the judgment, for any reason, is not pronounced within a period of six months, any of the parties of the said lis shall be entitled to move an application before the Chief Justice of the High Court with a prayer to withdraw the said case and to make it over to any other Bench for fresh arguments. It is open to the Chief Justice to grant the said prayer or to pass any other order as deems fit in the circumstances.

Case Details:

Title: SJVNL VS. M/S CCC HIM JV 

Case No.: CIVIL APPEAL NO. 494 OF 2021

Click to Read/Download Judgment

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