The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Saturday wrote to Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud objecting to two circulars issued by the Apex Court registry discontinuing the practice of requesting for adjournments of proceedings by way of letters and slips circulated by advocates.

The Apex Court registry issued two circulars dated December 5 and 22 in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases.

Following objections by Bar associations, the Apex Court had on December 22 constituted a committee of judges for preparing a standard operating procedure (SOP) for lawyers seeking adjournment of proceedings.

The panel has invited suggestions of the Bar and other stakeholders on the issue but the Apex Court registry's circular said that the practice of circulation of adjournment slips stands discontinued till further orders.

SCBA Secretary Rohit Pandey, in a letter to the CJI said, "The endeavor of the Bar and the Bench has always been the timely disposal of cases. To that end, the Bar, Bench, and litigants are equal stakeholders and have worked collaboratively over the years to achieve the same. We are pleased to note that, due to this collaboration, over 52,000 cases were disposed of by the Supreme Court in 2023, which is the highest in 6 years."

The letter said since the Supreme Court is the court of last resort, litigants actively follow up with their advocate as they are the most aggrieved in the event their case is not heard on the scheduled date.

"The intention of each litigant is that his case receives a proper opportunity of hearing with all relevant documents. Therefore, it is imperative that proper instructions are sought from each litigant for every stage of the process," it said, adding there are several reasons why matters may not be effectively heard on the day of their listing.

"These include the sudden non-sitting of Judges due to unavoidable circumstances, matters listed on a particular day not being heard due to a lack of time, as well as matters adjourned at the request of the advocates," the letter said.

It said among the reasons for seeking adjournment were the delayed publication of the cause list as well as the sudden listing of matters.

"Due to these reasons, an advocate is unable to seek effective instructions from their clients, including instructions pertaining to the engagement of arguing counsel Therefore, if the practice of circulating letters of adjournment is discontinued altogether, it will seriously affect the proper representation of the matter, resulting in injustice to the litigant. We reiterate that this age-old practice of circulating letters for adjournment is a necessary and indispensable tool to avoid a miscarriage of justice," the SCBA letter said.

It added the circulars dated December 5 and 22 were issued without consulting the SCBA.

"Having said that, the unprecedented record of disposing of 52,000 matters in a year could be achieved with the existing system of circulating letters for adjournment. Therefore, we request that the existing practice of circulating letters for adjournment should be maintained," Pandey wrote.

With PTI Inputs