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Case law, fidelity to the law and the “profound sadness” of Bombay HC’s Justice Gautam Patel

Anuj Agrawal

In an order passed earlier this month, the Bombay High Court’s Gautam Patel J. has made a number of observations on case law and a lawyer’s responsibility as an officer of the court.

While hearing an interim application filed in a property dispute, Patel J. lamented the fact that the counsel had failed to “cross-check” the status of the case cited. More specifically, the counsel had not disclosed the fact that the cases cited had either been set aside at the appellate stage, or were currently in appeal.

Each of the four cases cited by the counsel have a convoluted history of their own. The first, Kobad Rustomji Noble was decided in June of 2008, only to be set aside months later, and that too by consent, when it went in appeal. The second case, Antony Eugene Pintowas decided in 2009 but set aside, once again by consent, two years later. In fact, the 2009 decision in Pinto was even placed before another Bombay High Court judge, Karnik J, in 2011 without informing the judge that it had been set aside in appeal a few months earlier.

The judgment notes,

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