While rejecting the petitions for directing Presiding Officer to hear bulk of pending cases before it related to Rent Control on account of being overdue, the Kerala High Court held that it would be judicial injustice to allow such petitions, and if allowed, the Presiding Officer shall be forced to adjudicate upon them first, thus normal rule of going in que will not be followed.

The Division Bench of Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Mohammed Nias C.P., observed that “If any party desires to have its heard out of turn, it shall move an application for an early or out-of-turn hearing based on any justifiable or valid reasons before the court concerned and, the Rent Control Court/Appellate authority as the case may be shall dispose of such an application as expeditiously as possible, at any rate, within two weeks from the date of moving such application. Brief speaking orders will have to be passed by the said courts, either allowing or rejecting the prayer for an early hearing.”

Advocate Santhan V. Nair appeared for the Petitioners, whereas none appeared for the Respondents.

In a nutshell, the High Court was listening to bulk of petitions for directing the Presiding Officers of the III Additional Munsiff (Rent Control) Court, Rent Control Court, Chavakkad, Rent Control Court and the appeals filed before the Rent Control appellate authority to dispose of the case related to rent control pending before them.

While referring to earlier cases decided by the same court in Shiju Joy.A. and others v. Nisha [2023 (2) KLT 193], the Bench held that normally disposal of a case is done as per the seniority and deviation from that rule must be in exceptional cases wherein the grounds are valid and genuine.

The Bench also observed that prayers of expeditious disposal compel the Presiding Officers to decide these cases first which cause injustice to those litigants who do not approach the Court seeking such reliefs.

The High Court elucidated that before obtaining orders from High Court to expeditiously dispose of out of turn cases pending before the Rent Control Court, the litigant should prefer an application before the Presiding Officer of Rent Control Court with justiciable and valid reasons and only after that he should approach the High Court.

In most cases filed before this Court with prayers for expeditious disposal, it has become a routine practice of this Court to call for reports from the lower courts and issue directions to dispose of the proceedings in a time-bound manner. The Presiding officers are compelled to give a time frame for disposal, disregarding the pendency of much older cases. This works out injustice to those who cannot approach this Court for such reliefs and to all litigants waiting in the queue”, added the Court.

Hence, the Bench held that such kind of injustice should be avoided and only after approaching the Rent Control Court/ Appellate Authority first through application seeking expeditious disposal for valid reasons, should the litigant approach the High Court.

While clarifying on the delay in dispensation of justice by indiscriminate entertainment of the types of petitions, the High Court explained that equality before law implies an absence of any special privilege, and so does equal protection of laws by ensuring equality of treatment among people in similar circumstances.

Therefore, referring to Section 24 which directs the Rent Control Court to pass final orders in proceedings before it within four months from the date of appearance of the parties thereto, the Bench concluded that a direction by the High Court to give an out-of-turn hearing should not normally be done unless the situation warrants, as same will result in gross injustice, besides unfair treatment to litigants.

Cause Title: Prema Joy v. John Britto

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