This came as a bench of Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan was considering a plea moved by a co-operative bank employee who had been embroiled in litigation against his employer for over 25 years to get his benefits.
While deciding the plea that was registered in 2010, the court ultimately found that he was entitled to receive the benefits.
Noting this and recalling that he had once come across a case that was registered over 20 years ago, the judge called for introspection by the judiciary.
“An introspection by the judiciary is also necessary because the first writ petition filed by the workman was pending before this court for the last 13 years. I had the opportunity to sit in the old writ petition hearing jurisdiction in which I disposed several old cases and one of the writ petition disposed this month was filed in the year 2003. That means some of the writ petitions are pending before this court for about 20 years,” he said in the judgment.
The judge opined that the High Court Registry had a part to play, as they are responsible for informing the judges of old cases. However, unless lawyers file an ‘urgent memo’, the Registry usually won’t list admitted cases except for final hearing.
“I am forced to say that there are some latches on the part of the registry also for this sorry state of affairs. It is the duty of the registry to report before the jurisdictional roster judge about the old cases, after getting permission from the Honourable Chief Justice. The jurisdictional judge may not be knowing about the old cases because in High court, the usual practice is that, once the cases are admitted, unless there is an urgent memo or a petition for an early hearing or other petitions for any directions, it will not be listed except for final hearing,” the judgment stated.
Justice Kunhikrishnan also said that “there is a general grievance in the lawyers that the cases are not listed by the registry even after filing ‘urgent memo’. They even say sarcastically that the ‘urgent memos’ filed are ‘committing suicide and disappearing’. Some of the old writ petitions are misplaced and not located. It is the duty of the registry to locate the same forthwith or get orders to recreate the file”.
Therefore, the court directed the Registrar General and the Registrar (Judiciary) to inform the Chief Justice about old writ petitions pending in different jurisdictions and to take appropriate steps in this regard as per the directions of the Chief Justice.
“Otherwise, people will loose faith in the judiciary,” it warned.