The Gujarat High Court pulled up an advocate for simply reading out a petition before it and insisting that the court must read the entire petition.
A division bench of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha Mayee said the mere reading of the petition was nothing but a ‘criminal waste of judicial time’ and that lawyers should argue, instead of merely reading out from the petition.
“Reading the entire writ petition would be a criminal waste of judicial time. In the name of justice, you cannot insist this court to read the entire petition,” an irked CJ told the advocate.
The counsel, however, responded that courts were meant to deliver justice to litigants. In the name of justice, courts could not bypass such reading of petitions, the lawyer submitted.
“Please do not take undue liberty. We are very well aware and understand that courts are meant to deliver justice to litigants. Stop creating a scene here now,” the CJ replied.
The bench adjourned the hearing till September 8 with a clear directive to the advocate ‘to argue and not read the petition.’
The matter pertained to the acquisition of certain land in July 1987. The petitioners contended that they were landowners who were aggrieved by the compensation award passed by the acquisition authorities.
The counsel initially pointed out that the lands of the petitioners were acquired, even though they were not originally part of the acquisition proceedings.
The court then sought to know from the petitioner’s counsel if he could place on record a copy of the acquisition notifications which would clarify if the lands of the petitioners were part of the acquisition proceedings or not.
However, the advocate urged the bench ‘to have patience’ and let him read from the documents in the petition.
“If you are not going to answer our query, we will decide it in our own way. Please make out a case first by arguing and not by referring to some documents. If land is not part of the acquisition, it can be ascertained only from acquisition notifications. Where are those notifications? Why have you not brought those notifications on record?” the court asked.
During the hearing, the counsel also sought leave from the court to file an application for recusal.
“Recusal? Who? You want to recuse?” Chief Justice Agarwal asked.
“No, my lady, I want you to recuse from hearing this case,” the lawyer replied.
“This isn’t the manner in which a matter can be forced to be argued in a particular way. Please have some patience and let me argue instead of forcing me to argue in a particular way,” the counsel further submitted.
The Chief Justice, however, clarified that she would not recuse from hearing the case.
The counsel proceeded to tell the court that there were “two methods of arguing” the case, one of which, he said, was by simply pointing out aspects of the petition. The other was to read the entire petition and explain the issues, he said.
To this, the bench said, “No, but you cannot insist the court to read the entire petition. A counsel knows how to argue. We are not students here that you will explain the petition by reading it.”
The bench made it clear that it will not permit the counsel to keep reading the entire petition itself. Rather, it advised the lawyer to “argue the matter in a manner a counsel is supposed to argue.”
The counsel interrupted the bench saying, “So, I would expect this bench hears this matter, the way a bench usually hears a matter.”
The bench asked the counsel not to disrespect the court in such a way and come back on the next hearing “fully prepared to argue his case and not read.”