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Report No. 79

16. Extraordinary original civil jurisdiction of High Courts: Writs

(80) (a) High Courts have extraordinary original civil jurisdiction derived from a number of sources.1 Occasions for the exercise of such jurisdiction may (in particular) arise on the withdrawal of a case by, or its transfer to, a High Court.2

(b) The Constitution has now also conferred on all High Courts power to issue writs.3

With increased activities of the State, the writ jurisdiction has assumed importance.4 The existing strength of judges is obviously not enough to cope with the pendency and to clear the backlog. Ways and means are needed to expedite the disposal of writ petitions.5

(81) To avoid delay in the disposal of writ petitions resulting from service where the respondent is a Government Department, the Advocate-General or Central Government Standing Counsel should accept notice on behalf of the Government. Consequential additional expenditure on staff would be worthwhile.6

(82) In service matters, where a large number of individual officers are impleaded, service of the notice of writ petition on them takes time, because of the frequent transfer of the officers. Instructions may be issued to the various departments of the Government that court notices, instead of being sent back to the court with the report that the officer is transferred should be re-directed to the new station of posting.7

(83) To facilitate quick disposal, writ petitions should be required to be accompanied by a chronological statement of necessary facts.8

(84) Dismissal of writ petitions at the preliminary stage by a one-word order-'dismissed' causes delay, as later on the case is remanded on appeal. Issue of a show-cause notice is desirable and would narrow down the controversy.9

The notice should, however, be made returnable early, to avoid abuse of the provision for interim relief.10

(85) The High Court, while dismissing a writ petition, should record a short order giving reasons.11

(86) (a) For filing the counter-affidavit in writ petitions, rules should prescribe a time limit not exceeding three months from date of service of notice of admission.12 This time limit could be extended by the court, for sufficient cause, for a period generally not to exceed one month.13

(b) In every writ petition, the respondent must serve an advance copy of the counter-affidavit on the petitioner. A counter-affidavit not complying with the above requirements should not be accepted, and the case should be listed for hearing without the counter-affidavit; the respondent should not then be allowed to file a counter-affidavit without special permission of the court.14

(87) Rules should also provide for filing a replication (where it is to be filed) within four weeks from service of copy of the counter affidavit.15

(88) Writ petitions should be included in the ready list of cases in chronological order according to the date of institution, except where the petition has, for sufficient reason, to be listed for a future date, and except petitions belonging to a class needing priority. Apart from that, the daily list should be prepared strictly according to the order in the ready list, subject to the order of the court as to actual date in any matter.16

(89 A concise note of arguments should be filed in writ petitions (except petitions for habeas corpus before the date of hearing. Its contents should be the same as recommended for regular first appeals.17

(90) The above is only a suggested general pattern. High Courts may frame their own rules with variations. The object should be to obtain a regular procedure, conforming to natural justice and, at the same time, securing quicker disposal.18

(91) Sittings of writ Benches should continue for a reasonable length of time.19

(92) Writ petitions involving the same questions of law should be grouped together.20

(93) Listing of writ petitions should not be deferred on the ground that other petitions of the same nature may follow. Such a petition, when filed should be given precedence-if need be with the permission of the Chief Justice. This would minimise the filing of similar petitions. If the petition succeeds, the department may possibly take similar action in regard to persons similarly aggrieved.21

(94) (a) Decision of writ petitions should be as quick as possible. The writ Rules should be framed with that object in view.

(b) For expeditious disposal of writs, whole-hearted co-operation of the Government is necessary. Special attention should be paid to this aspect at Government level.22

1. Para. 16.1.

2. Para. 16.2.

3. Para. 16.3.

4. Para. 16.4.

5. Para. 16.4.

6. Paras. 16.5 and 16.6.

7. Para. 16.7.

8. Para. 16.8.

9. Para. 16.9.

10. Para. 16.9.

11. Para. 16.10.

12. Para. 16.10.

13. Para. 16.11.

14. Para. 16.12.

15. Para. 16.13.

16. Para. 16.14.

17. Para. 16.15.

18. Para. 16.16.

19. Para. 16.17.

20. Para. 16.18.

21. Para. 16.20.

22. Para. 16.21.

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