Read Order: Simranjit Singh v. Jagir Singh and Others
Chandigarh, April 29, 2022: While dealing with a civil revision petition wherein the defendant/petitioner failed to lead his evidence before the Trial Court even after being given numerous opportunities to do so, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that in non-commercial suits, the stipulated time of 30 days to file written statement/defence can be extended to 90 days only in exceptional cases.
The Bench of Justice Manjari Nehru Kaul held, “In the case in hand, however, the learned counsel has failed to satisfy this Court qua any such exceptional ground rather due to the conduct of the petitioner/defendant, it is discernible that there has been an inordinate delay in the conclusion of the trial. It is apparent that the petitioner/defendant was engaging in delaying tactics.
Essentially, in this case, a suit for permanent injunction restraining the petitioner/defendant, their agents etc. from alienating the suit property was instituted by the respondent/plaintiff on June 20, 2017.
After the counsel for the respondent/plaintiff closed evidence on September 06, 2019, the Court below adjourned the case for recording the defendant’s evidence for September 24, 2019. However, the petitioner/ defendant failed to do so. Even after being granted more than six adjournments, the petitioner failed to lead his evidence and to pay costs imposed by the Court for seeking multiple amendments.
Thus, eventually, by its order dated January 10, 2020, the Trial Court ordered the closing of the evidence of the petitioner/defendant. Aggrieved, the petitioner/ defendant filed an application for recalling January 10, 2020, order and to seek permission for leading his evidence, but the application was dismissed by the Court.
Hence, the petitioner approached the High Court with a revision petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, for redressal.
The case of the petitioner’s counsel was that the petitioner/defendant was unable to lead his evidence, as his counsel before the Court below was unwell. He submitted that in the circumstances, the petitioner could not be faulted with and made to suffer on account of the absence of his counsel due to health reasons. It was submitted that prima facie the petitioner/defendant had a good case in his favour and he would suffer irreparable loss if the impugned orders were not set aside.
After considering these submissions, the Court opined at the very outset that the submission that due to the absence of the petitioner’s counsel, the petitioner/defendant was unable to lead his evidence was bereft of any merit.
In the considered view of the Court, the petitioner/defendant was duly represented by his counsel on each and every date of the hearing and the Trial Court was magnanimous in granting him numerous opportunities to lead evidence including a couple of last opportunities before closing his evidence by order, however, he failed to do so and did not even deposit the costs imposed.
Significantly, in view of the above, the Court added that no doubt, in non-commercial suits, the stipulated time i.e. of 30 days to file a written statement/defence as the case may be, can be extended to 90 days, however, it should be done only in exceptional cases.
In the case in hand, the Court observed that the counsel for the petitioner failed to satisfy the Court qua any such exceptional ground, rather due to the conduct of the petitioner/defendant, it is discernible that there was an inordinate delay in the conclusion of the trial, the Bench opined, while adding that the petitioner/defendant was engaging in delaying tactics. Consequently, the revision petition being devoid of any merit, was dismissed in limine.