GARMENT CRAFT V. PRAKASH CHAND GOEL

COURT: The Supreme Court of India

CORAM: Bench Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M. Trivedi

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 11 January 2022

FACTS

In this case, the appellant was in judicial custody in Jaipur, and as a result, he was unable to appear before the Delhi High Court in another civil matter filed against him. The joint registrar of the Delhi High Court ordered the closure of defence evidence in the civil suit and moved the case to the court of the Additional District Judge on the basis of pecuniary jurisdiction. The Additional District Judge recalled the high court’s order requiring the closure of defence material, and the appellant was allowed to testify before issuing a production warrant. However, Jaipur’s jail superintendent refused to comply, instead seeking confirmation from the court as to whether the detenu was on bail in that particular civil case.

The Additional District Judge subsequently denied the motion for clarification, noting that he should have been presented. In light of the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division, and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015, the claim was re-transferred to the High Court. However, in an order dated August 10, 2016, the complaint was renumbered and assigned to the Addl. Dist. Judge, Tis Hazari. The appellant’s counsel did not arrive, therefore the court closed the defence evidence and later heard concluding arguments before issuing an ex parte decision.

Following his release from central jail, the appellant filed an application before Addl. Dist. Judge Tis hazari for the recall of the order of closure of defence evidence, as well as an application under Order IX Rule 13 for the setting aside of the exparte decision. The request was approved. Later, the Delhi High Court, acting under Article 227 of the Indian Constitution, overturned the District Judge’s ruling granting the motion. The defendant then moved to the Supreme Court, where the case was finally heard.

ISSUES RAISED

Whether the judgement passed by the High Court of Delhi is erroneous in nature?

Whether there is deviation from the limited jurisdiction exercisable by the high court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India?

JUDGEMENT

The supreme court indicated that the high court’s ruling is contrary to law and cannot be sustained for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is the deviation from the high court’s limited authority under Article 227 of the Indian Constitution.

“The High Court is not to substitute its own judgement on facts and conclusion for that of the lesser court or tribunal,” it was ruled. The exercised jurisdiction is of the type of correctional jurisdiction used to address grave dereliction of duty or egregious abuse, as well as violations of fundamental principles of law or justice. Article 227 power must be used carefully and only in proper instances. Such discretionary relief must be used to guarantee that no injustice occurs.”

The supreme court further concluded that the discretion used by the Addl. Dist. Judge in awarding relief was not marred by any error on the face of the record or a perverse finding. As a result, the Addl. Dist. Judge’s reasoned and justified decision, after considering relevant facts, did not merit any interference by the high court exercising revisional authority under Article 227 of the Indian Constitution.

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