A litigant also has to be vigilant about his or her rights and judicial proceedings and not blame lawyers for any delay in the case, the Delhi High Court has said. Justice Vinod Goel made the observation while dismissing a plea of a Delhi-based private company seeking condonation of a 400-day delay in filing an appeal against a trial court’s August 31, 2015 decision against the entity.
The company had challenged the trial court’s direction to pay over Rs 14 lakh with interest to another private firm. The appellant-company, which claims to work in the field of architecture and arranging exhibitions, has alleged that the defendant firm availed its services for installing stalls in Petrotech 2009, an international conference of oil and gas companies.
The appellant company had claimed that despite carrying out the work to the defendant’s satisfaction, the entire bill of over Rs 46 lakh was not paid. It had said that despite repeated reminders, the defendant firm had not paid the remaining balance.
In its appeal in the high court, the appellant-company had blamed its advocate for the 400-day delay in challenging the trial court decision. It had said that its lawyer was negligent as he had not attended court proceedings and had not informed them about the progress of the case.
The court, however, rejected by their submissions and said, “The litigant owes a duty to be vigilant of his rights and is also expected to be equally vigilant about the judicial proceedings pending in the court of law against him or initiated at his instance.”
“The litigant cannot be permitted to cast the entire blame on the advocate. It appears that the blame is being attributed on the advocate with a view to get the delay condoned and avoid the decree,” it added.
The bench further noted that after filing the civil suit or written statement, the litigant cannot go off to sleep and wake up from a deep slumber after passing a long time as if the court is storage of suits filed by such negligent litigants.
Putting the entire blame upon the advocate and trying to make it out as if they were totally unaware of the nature or significance of the proceedings is a theory put forth by the appellant/applicant/defendant company, which cannot be accepted and ought not to have been accepted, the court noted.
While dismissing the plea, the court said, “appellant is not a simple or rustic illiterate person but a private limited company managed by educated businessmen, who know very well where their interest lies.
“The litigant is to be vigilant and pursue his case diligently on all the hearings. If the litigant does not appear in the court and leaves the case at the mercy of his counsel without caring as to what different frivolous pleas/defences being taken by his counsel for adjournments is bound to suffer.”
“If the litigant does not turn up to obtain the copies of judgement and orders of the court so as to find out what orders are passed by the court is liable to bear the consequences,” it added.