Right To Speedy Justice Is Enshrined Under Article 21 - Gujarat HC Directs Appointment Of Presiding Officer At DRT Ahmedabad
Placing reliance on Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association Vs. Union of India reported in AIR 1994 SC 268, the Gujarat High Court reiterated that the right to speedy justice is enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution, in this context the Division Bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh J. Shastri observed that non-adherence to the same would impinge upon the rights of citizens under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
The Court was dealing with a plea seeking direction for the appointment of a full-time Presiding Officer in Debt Recovery Tribunal-I, Ahmedabad.
The petitioner who is an advocate submitted that Debt Recovery Tribunals having jurisdiction over the State of Gujarat comprised of two Benches namely, DRT-I and DRT-II.
It was brought to the notice of the Court that initially Presiding Officer, DRT-II was given additional charge of matters relating to DRT-I up to December 31, 2021. Later the Ministry of Finance issued a notification extending such charge of DRT-II to hold the charge of DRT-I.
The additional in-charge arrangement, as aforesaid, was extended up to March 31, 2022.
The Court observed that subsequent to the expiry of in-charge arrangement, no further notification was issued extending the in-charge arrangement.
The Court noted that litigants whose matters were before DRT-II were able to get the relief at the hands of DRT-II, whereas litigants who were similarly placed and seeking relief by filing the petition, which was pending before DRT-I, were not able to get the relief.
The Court noted that their applications or petitions were getting adjourned from time to time for want of Presiding Officer and thereby depriving them of their legitimate right to speedy justice. The Court observed "Though this matter has seen two subsequent dates i.e. 17.6.2022 and 20.6.2022, till date, the assurance given to this Court has not crystallized by way of any such steps having been taken or order having been issued. Hence, even today, when it is pointed out to learned counsel appearing for the respondent as to whether the respondent is ready and willing to pass an order or issue office memorandum making in-charge arrangement, he is unable to give any concrete or positive answer as to what steps the respondent would take to address this issue in a time bound manner."
Therefore the Court directed to expeditiously conclude the process of appointment of the Presiding Officer in DRT-I, Ahmedabad. The Court also ordered for issuance of appropriate notification for placing Presiding Officer, DRT-II, Ahmedabad, with an additional charge of Presiding Ahmedabad, till such time.