The laid down procedure of allowing a maximum of three adjournments per case is not followed in over 50 per cent of the matters being heard by courts, leading to rising pendency of cases, a government panel has said. The panel stressed that the law of three adjournments should be strictly followed to reduce the pendency — a whopping three crore cases across Indian courts. The task force was set up by the government to suggest changes in judicial procedures for faster disposal of commercial disputes and to improve the country’s ranking in the World Bank index of ease of doing business.
“Provisions for overall time standards in a civil case — the number of adjournments that can be granted in a case in normal circumstances — is already available in the Code of Civil Procedure. However, these time standards and the rule on adjournments are not followed in more than 50 per cent of the cases,” the task force observed at one of its recent meetings.
The panel, headed by the secretary (justice) in the law ministry, “unanimously accepted” that the law of three adjournments should be strictly followed at least for commercial disputes. Frequent adjournments are considered a major cause of rising pendency of cases. The high courts have been pressing subordinate courts in their states against granting frequent adjournments in cases. The task force also recommended amending a key law dealing with time-bound settlement of commercial disputes.
The department of legal affairs in the law ministry is looking into the possibility of amending the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015 to allow establishment of commercial courts at the district level in some states. The issue came up for discussion at a recent meeting of the task force.
The representatives of the Delhi High Court and the Bombay High Court had expressed their inability to set up commercial courts at district level unless amendments were made in the Act to remove proviso regarding original jurisdiction of high courts and reducing the value of commercial disputes that could be taken up at the district level. The law was passed to create commercial benches in select high courts for speedy settlement of high-value business disputes.