The Allahabad High Court has expressed concern over the deteriorating faith of citizens in civil courts, noting a prevailing sentiment of annoyance and contempt towards their jurisdiction.

The Bench of Justice JJ Munir, was adjudicating on a Writ Petition filed by Maya Devi, wherein she sought recovery of possession of land acquired through a registered sale deed. However, instead of pursuing the matter through a Civil Suit, she approached various authorities, including the sub-divisional magistrate, police, and even the Provincial Armed Constabulary Commandant.

"A wholesome reading of the petitioner's cause set out in the writ petition shows a progressively eroding faith of citizens in the Judge of the district exercising civil jurisdiction," the Court said. It noted that Devi's case is nothing more than a cause of action for a suit to recover possession and a permanent prohibitory injunction.

The Bench noted that instead of instituting a Suit before the Court of ordinary original/civil jurisdiction where the property is situated, Devi has approached every possible authority who has nothing to do with the matter to seek relief, including invoking our jurisdiction.

The Court observed a reluctance among citizens to resort to Civil Courts due to pessimism and cynicism regarding the efficacy of the legal process. While acknowledging this sentiment, the Court emphasized that citizens cannot express their frustration by approaching irrelevant fora, such as the police or revenue authorities.

Highlighting the wide-ranging jurisdiction of civil courts, the Single-Judge Bench underscored that it is not the prerogative of High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution to entertain suits for possession.

"Merely because a citizen finds it inconvenient is no answer to take resort to other proceedings. It is also not open to a citizen to express his indignation towards the process of the civil law by approaching other irrelevant and incompetent fora such as the Police, the Revenue Authorities or if even this Court in the exercise of our extra-ordinary jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution. It is no part of our business in the exercise of our jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution virtually to entertain suits for possession," the Court remarked.

The Court attributed citizens' dissatisfaction with Civil Courts to factors such as frequent strikes, lack of work culture among legal practitioners, and the filing of complaints against judges for passing Orders. These issues have contributed to a perception that civil courts are ineffective in providing quick relief to litigants.

"There is still another factor which cannot be lost sight of. Often Judges in the District Courts, who move to pass decisive orders granting well deserved relief to one party or refusing it, face the peril of complaints made against them on the administrative side of the Court. They also face transfer Application on hideous and absurd allegations of bias, without the slightest fear in the minds of those who make them about consequences," the Court said.

The Bench also said, "This Court must remark that though this kind of an attitude of citizens showing indignation to the Civil Court's jurisdiction has no place in the law and cannot be accepted, howsoever strong the sentiment may be, it is equally true that the process of the Civil Court has become lethargic due to some factors that are seminal."

"It is difficult for a Judge in the Civil Court to exercise his jurisdiction freely, if he constantly works not just aware of the professional routine of having his orders overturned by a superior Court, but the personal peril of harm to his career, if he were to pass orders of effective consequence which his conscience says he must. These factors put together have indeed made the Civil Court a place of somewhat non-promising resort for a litigant who requires quick relief against a situation that threatens him in the face," the Court added.

Despite recognizing these challenges, the Court stressed that it cannot usurp the jurisdiction of Civil Courts. "Be that as it may, the realities of the situation apart, this Court cannot usurp the jurisdiction of the Civil Court merely because the petitioner has chosen not to resort to it, for a substantial part on account of her indignation or wrong legal advice, and in some measure, on account of genuine difficulties that the course of a litigation in the Civil Court is hedged with," it said.

Consequently, the Court dismissed Petition as non-maintainable.

Cause Title: Maya Devi v. State of U.P. and others


Petitioner: Advocates Om Shiv, Yogendra Singh Kushwaha

Respondent: Chief Standing Counsel, Monika Arya

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