Ranjit Singh, J. (Chairperson) -
(1.) THIS appeal is directed against the order dated 28.2.2013. The Bank had filed O.A. 31/2000 on 18.1.2000 against five defendants (including the appellant) jointly and severally for the recovery of various amounts. The Bank, in fact, had claimed an amount of Rs. 27,87,702/ - along with pendente lite and future interest @ 20.90% p.a. with quarterly rests towards Packing Credit facility, Rs. 16,39,269/ - along with pendente lite and future interest @ 22% p.a. with quarterly rests towards Foreign Exchange Bills and Rs. 12,04,966.19 along with pendente lite and future interest @ 19.34% p.a. with quarterly rests. The O.A. was allowed ex parte against the appellant on 29.1.2001. Later on, the appellant filed a miscellaneous application claiming to be a guarantor and mortgagor, which was allowed and the ex parte order dated 29.1.2001 and the recovery certificate was withdrawn qua the appellant on 19.6.2006. Thereafter, the appellant was heard on merit and vide impugned order dated 28.2.2013 the appellant has been held liable as guarantor and mortgagor. This order is now challenged through the present appeal. At the time of arguments, the learned Counsel for the appellant has pressed the present appeal only on the one ground, i.e., delay in pronouncing the order after hearing the arguments. The undisputed facts in this regard are that the Tribunal below heard the Counsel for both the parties on 13.1.2012 and listed the case for pronouncing the final order on 31.1.2012. On this date, the Tribunal has recorded that due to paucity of time the order could not be dictated and adjourned the case to 17.4.2012. Thereafter, for a same reason the case was adjourned to 26.7.2012 and then to 19.12.2012. Finally, the case was adjourned to 28.2.2012 on which date the impugned order was pronounced. The orders passed by the Tribunal on 31.1.2012. 17.4.2012, 26.7.2012 and 19.12.2012 are reproduced here as under:
Due to paucity of time orders could not be dictated. Hence the matter is adjourned to 17.4.2012 for orders."
Due to paucity of time orders could not be dictated. Hence the matter is adjourned to 26.7.2012 for orders."
Due to paucity of time orders could not be dictated. Hence the matter is adjourned to 19.12.2012 for orders."
Due to paucity of time orders could not be dictated. Hence the matter is adjourned to 28.2.2013 for orders."
(2.) THE learned Counsel for the appellant would contend that having kept the case for pronouncing the order and adjourning it for one year and one month would itself render the order bad as delay in dictating and pronouncing the order is enough to cast doubt on the judgment as such. Similar issue arose before this Tribunal in another appeal (No. 284/2011) which was decided by this Tribunal on 21.3.2014. The delay in pronouncing the order keeping it reserved for nearly two years was considered in detail in the light of a judgment passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court and this Tribunal in this regard has held as under:
"Keeping a case pending for one year and nine months after hearing arguments and then pronouncing the same obviously would be a situation which certainly gives rise to lot of apprehensions and in itself is enough to cast doubt on the judgment as such. Apart from anything else, the Court or Tribunal is likely to forget the line of submissions advanced before it with the passage of time, especially, when the time -gap between the date of reserving the order and passing the judgment is so long, which, in the present case, is nearly two years. Though the Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes or other procedural law may not have laid down any time -limit for pronouncement of the judgment after hearing arguments, but a speedy delivery of the judgment is a characteristic of a justice dispensation system. Any procedure or course of action which does not ensure reasonably quick adjudication has to be termed as nothing but unjust The delayed delivery of judgment after hearing arguments and reserving the same for pronouncement thereafter would also be contrary to the maxim actus curiae neminem gravabit, an act of Court shall prejudice none.
This issue of delayed pronouncement of judgment has been dealt with by the Hon'ble Supreme Court as well. In the case of R.C. Sharma v. Union of India & Ors., : AIR 1976 SC 2037. Here the judgment was pronounced after eight months of hearing of arguments. The Hon'ble Supreme Court has observed that an unreasonable delay between hearing of arguments and delivery of judgment unless explained by exceptional or extraordinary circumstances is highly undesirable even when written arguments are submitted. As observed by the Hon'ble Court it is not unlikely that some points which the litigants considers important may have escaped the attention of the Court or Tribunal with the passage of time. Importantly, it is noticed by the Court that what is more important is that the litigant must have complete confidence in the results of litigation. This confidence tends to be shaken if there is excessive delay between hearing of arguments and delivery of judgments. Justice, as is often observed, must not only be done but must manifestly appear to be done. Later this issue of delayed delivery of judgment after hearing arguments, again, has been dealt by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Anil Rai v. State of Bihar, : AIR 2001 SC 3173. It is held by the Hon'ble Supreme Court that any procedure or course of action which does not ensure a reasonably quick adjudication has to be termed as unjust. After noticing that the procedural code did not provide any time -limit for pronouncement of the order, but, still pronouncement of judgment being part of the justice dispensation system, has to be delivered without any delay. The Hon'ble Court went on to observe that in a country like ours where people consider the Judges only second to God, efforts be made to strengthen that belief of the common man. Delay in disposal of the cases facilitates the people to raise eyebrows, sometime genuinely which, if not checked, may shake the confidence of the people in the judicial system. The Court has further held that judiciary itself has to assert for preserving its stature, respect and regards for the attainment of the Rule of Law. For the fault of a few, the glorious and glittering name of the judiciary cannot be permitted to be made ugly.
In this case, the Supreme Court went onto lay down guidelines regarding pronouncement of judgment, one of which was that if the judgment is not pronounced within a period of six months then any of the parties of the said lis is held 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. This judgment, therefore, leave us with enough guidance even as regards to the outer limit beyond which the situation becomes incurable."
(3.) ONCE arguments were heard on 13.1.2012 and then adjourning the case to different dates for over a year will make it appear that the Tribunal has not done a quick adjudication of the case. As noticed above speedy delivery of judgment is a characteristic of justice dispensation system. As already noticed above, the Hon'ble Supreme Court has observed that any procedure or course of action which does not ensure a reasonable quick adjudication has to be termed as unjust. Keeping the case pending for pronouncing of the order for over a period of one year would certainly lead to raising apprehension in the mind of litigant apart from anything else, this reason is enough to call for interference in the impugned order. The speedy dispensation of justice is essential part of justice delivery system and where it is found to have been violated, it may need correction.;