News-CRUX-10     16th February 2024        
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Context: The Supreme Court recently issued a circular tightening provisions regarding the circumstances under which lawyers may seek adjournment of cases and imposed a bar on seeking two consecutive adjournments.

Adjournments in Supreme Court (SC)

  • About: An adjournment refers to the court practice of delaying a scheduled hearing to a later date.
  • Order XVII of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908: Order XVII of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 provides rules for courts to follow when faced with adjournment requests.

oCourts shall not grant an adjournment to a party more than three times during the hearing of a suit.

oSufficient cause must be shown, and the circumstances are beyond the control of the party requesting the adjournment.

  • Impact of Adjournments: While adjournments are often necessary, the delay caused has a cascading effect of increasing the number of pending cases.
  • Causes of Delay: The 239th Law Commission Report (2012) listed causes for delay in criminal cases at the trial court stage.

Guidelines for Adjournment Requests

  • Consent Requirement: Lawyers must obtain consent from the opposing side before circulating a request for an adjournment.
  • Limit on Consecutive Adjournments: Two consecutive adjournments in a case are prohibited.
  • Specific Reasons Mandate: The party seeking an adjournment must: Provide a specific reason for the request and Indicate the total number of adjournments already sought in the case.
  • Non-Entertainment Criteria: Related to bail/anticipatory bail.

oWhere an exemption from surrendering has been granted.

oWhere an interim order is operating in favor of the adjournment-seeking party.

oWhere suspension of sentence has been sought for.

oIn all other cases, adjournment letters will be entertained a day before the publication of the case list.

  • Mandatory Listing Within Four Weeks: Matters that get adjourned must be listed before the court within the following four weeks.
  • Advance Date Requests Prohibition: No requests to mention the matter to seek an advance date will be permitted after adjournment.

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