The Madras High Court recently noted that several petitions for vacating interim stay were not listed by the Registry for months together, possibly because the Court Registry staff were in collusion with parties in such cases [R Radha v The State].
Justice SM Subramaniam thus directed the Court Registry to ensure that "vacate stay petitions" and writ petitions where "interim orders were in force," were listed periodically for hearings.
The judge also said that the the Madras High Court Judicial Registrar was "duty bound" to monitor the listing of such cases and to watch out for any corrupt practices among the staff.
"This Court has recently witnessed many such writ petitions, where large scale State financial implications have involved. Those writ petitions are not even listed for years together, despite the fact that the interim orders are affecting the financial interest of the State and its organizations. One cannot brush aside the allegations against the Registry that such matters are not listed with the collusion of the Registry staff and the corrupt practices also cannot be overruled," the order stated.
The Court called for a periodical inspection of such developments in order to ensure that the case papers are maintained properly by the Registry.
"These case papers are sometimes mixed up with the other cases papers intentionally, so as to ensure that the cases are not listed," it added.
The Court was hearing two writ petitions challenging notices issued by the Commissioner, Coonoor Municipality enhancing the rent for two shopkeepers. The petitioners had sought an interim stay on the notice of such enhancement, citing an interim order of the Court in another case.
However, Justice Subramaniam refused to grant them relief on the ground that discretionary interim orders cannot be construed as binding precedents. It further said that when matters were kept pending with such interim orders in force, the State suffered much loss of revenue.
"Painfully, many such vacate stay petitions are not even listed for several months and years by the Registry, High Court. The injustice, huge financial loss to the State Exchequer and its organizations, irreparable loss to the parties are not taken into consideration by not listing those vacate stay petitions for disposal," the Court said.
It, therefore, directed the Judicial Registrar of the Court to "keep vigil" on the Registry staff and take immediate disciplinary action against any lapse or misconduct on their part.
Advocate MA Vimal Mohan appeared for the petitioners.
Additional Government Pleader C Selvaraj appeared for the State government.
Additional Government Pleader R Kumaravel appeared for the respondent municipal authorities.