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Report No. 54

Chapter 17

Adjournments

Introductory

17.1. Under Order 17, rule 1, the court may ,if sufficient cause be shown, at any state of the suit, grant time to the parties or any of them, and may, form the to time, adjourn the hearing of the suit. There is a proviso, now almost a century old,1 under which once the hearing of witnesses commences, it should continue (except for reasons to be recorded) from day-to-day, until the witnesses in attendance have been examined. If one object of this proviso is to avoid delay, expenses and inconvenience, there is a large object namely, to avoid opportunities for perjury and attempts to win over witnesses.

1. See section 156, Code of Civil Procedure, 1882.

17.2. In general, rules applicable to the first hearing apply to every adjourned hearing-though the relevant rule1is not well drafted, and will require detailed consideration at the appropriate place.

1. Order 17, rule 2.

Order 17, rule 1

17.3. Frequent adjournments of case pose serious problems, As an ideal, the great majority of cases should be disposed of on the day originally fixed for hearing. But this ideal is rarely achieved. Several factors necessitate adjournments. It is not necessary to go into those factors here. From the legal point of view, the broad situations are the following:-

(a) Where more than the average number of cases set down for trial on a day proves to be effective and to require trial, some of them have normally to be given later trial dates. Such adjournments should not be long. The fact that on a particular day a number of case have to be adjourned shows lack of care in the organisation of the business of the court.

(b) Sometimes, the court has time to try the case, but the parties themselves desire adjournment. Such adjournment with consent can be avoided, if the members of the Bar cooperate with the court in the efficient and expeditious disposal of business.

(c) Sometimes, a case is substantially hear. and then adjourned at the end of the day. Adjournments may be unavoidable in such situations, and all that can be suggested is that the time likely to be taken should be estimated as accurately as possible.

17.4. While studying the question of adjournments, as distinction should, therefore, be drawn between (i) adjournments where cases are not reached at all on the day fixed for hearing, (ii) adjournment after less than full day's hearing, and (iii) adjournments after a substantial day's hearing. The recommendation below has been made, bearing this aspect in mind.

Order 17, rule 1(2), Proviso

17.5. Order 17, rule 1(2), proviso, enacts that when the hearing of evidence has once begun hearing of the suit shall be continued from bay to-day. In practice however, his provision is rarely observed.1 The need for recording evidence continuously was emphasised in the earlier Report,2 and the practice which prevails in England was referred to. It is obviously desirable as was observed, in the earlier Report, that evidence should be recorded continuously without and break, except in very exceptional circumstances.

1. 14th Report, Vol. 1

2. 27th Report, Vol. 31.

17.6. We agree with the above approach. Further, we are of the view that Order 17, rule 1(2), proviso, should be made more restrictive, by express amendment. The time has come for enacting specific and positive restrictions in the respect; and, in particular, once the stage of evidence had been reached, and adjournment should be granted only for unavoidable reasons. That, indeed, is the spirit of the existing rule; but we would like to give it express recognition. We would, in the interest of expedition, also like to impose a few other restrictions on the grant of adjournments. The restrictions which propose will be evident form the draft which we give below,

Recommendation

17.7. We recommend, therefore, that the existing proviso to Order 17, rule 1(2) should be revised, as follows:-

"Provided that,

(a) When the haring, of the suit has commenced, it shall be continued from day-to-day until all the witnesses in attendance have been examined, unless the court finds the adjournment of the hearing beyond the following day to be necessary for exceptional reasons to be recorded;

(b) no adjournment shall be granted at the request of a party, expect were the circumstances are beyond the control of the party;

(c) the fact that the pleader of a part is engaged in another court shall not be a ground of adjournment;

(d) where the illness of a pleader or his inability to conduct the case for any reason other than his being engaged in another court is put forth as a ground for adjournment, the court shall, before granting the adjournment, consider whether the party applying for adjournment could not have engaged another pleader in time;

(e) Where a witness is present but a party or his pleader is no present or, though present, is not ready to examine or cross-examine the witness, the court may, if thinks fit, record the statement of the witness, and pass such orders as it thinks fit dispensing with the examination-in-chief or cross-examination of the witness, as the case may be, by the party or pleader not present or ready as aforesaid."



The Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 Back




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