Registrar Shall Not Accept "Statement" Filed By The Lawyers As Reply To Writ Petitions: Kerala HC Stops Popular Practice
The Kerala High Court has directed the Registrar (Judicial) not to accept any statement filed by the lawyers purported to be a reply or a counter to the pleadings of the writ petition. The Court observed that the practice of filing the statement by the lawyer is not provided under the High Court Rules and Regulations.
It is a common practice in Kerala High Court for Lawyers, especially counsel for the government and its entities, to file statements based on instructions from the client and such statements are signed only by the Lawyer and not the client.
"Registrar (Judicial) is directed not to accept any statement filed by the lawyers purported to be a reply or a counter to the pleadings of the writ petition. It has to be a counter affidavit duly verified by the authorised officer and the information disclosed in the affidavit has to be on the basis of the official record available.", the Bench of Justice Amit Rawal observed.
The Court was adjudicating upon a writ petition seeking directions from the Court to direct the regional passport office to consider the application for re- issuance of the passport of the petitioners. Petitioners were the children of a divorced couple. Petitioners' mother Binitha had obtained a correction by submitting the appropriate application to the Passport Authority by substituting the name of her husband with her father. Petitioners also moved an application that their father's name is Sadik but it has incorrectly been written as Zakir.
Advocate M. Kiran Lal appeared for the petitioners whereas respondents were represented by Manu. S, Assistant Solicitor General.
Respondents-Regional Passport Office & Union of India, contested the matter by filing a statement on the basis of the instructions received from the Regional Passport Officer and contended that in the Birth Certificates at the time of the submission of the application for issuance of the passport, the name of the father was written as Zakir.
However, it did not disclose whether the Birth Certificate was of the Registrar of Birth and Death or of some Municipality or local Panchayat. The Birth Certificates did not reflect the name of the father as Zakir. The Court noted that the respondents did not place on record any material in support of the "statement" which, according to the Court, cannot be filed in the absence of any provision in the High Court Rules.
The Court noted "It is strange that the advocates on the basis of the instructions are filing the statement and that too, not in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and the format prescribed under the High Court Rules, as for every department, affidavit has to be on the basis of the information traced from the official record and not as per the instructions."
The Court observed that the practice of filing the statement by the lawyer is not provided under the High Court Rules and Regulations. The Court held that reply or a counter to the pleadings of the writ petition has to be a counter affidavit duly verified by the authorised officer and the information disclosed in the affidavit has to be on the basis of the official record available.
The Court warned of disciplinary action against the officers as well as the staff of the Registry who were entertaining such statements.
"In this view of the matter, I deem it appropriate to summon the Passport Officer who has passed the instructions to the Assistant Solicitor General without any material. He is directed to be present in this Court on 01.08.2022 and bring the records, both the passport Nos.N3311011 and K6437413 issued in favour of the petitioners reflecting the name of the father as Zakir and the proof of Birth Certificates submitted at the time of submission of the application for issuance of passport.", the Court said while posting the matter for 1st August 2022.
Cause Title- Bilal S. & Anr. v. The Passport Officer, Regional Passport Office & Anr.
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