Concept of ‘liberal approach’ has to encapsulate conception of reasonableness

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J., decided a petition filed under Article 227 of the Constitution, wherein petitioner’s challenge to the order of the learned Civil Judge whereby she refused his application to lead additional evidence, was dismissed.

The petitioner submitted that one Shri S.R. Chaudhary, advocate who had drafted the Will in concern, was a necessary witness and due to inadvertence of the counsel, the petitioner was not able to examine the said witness. Therefore, the petitioner filed an application before the Civil Judge to be allowed to lead additional evidence, which was refused. The said order was challenged by the petitioner in the instant petition.

The High Court referred to various decisions of the Supreme Court to observe that power of judicial review under Article 227 is to be exercised only in extreme cases, where there is perversity or irrationality on the face of it. Further, concept of liberal approach has to encapsulate the conception of reasonableness and it cannot be allowed a totally unfettered free play. On the issue that the party could not be allowed to suffer for inactions of the counsel, the Court held that each case has to be looked into on its own facts. The Court found favour with the submissions made by learned counsel for the respondent, that the said application is an afterthought and an attempt to fill the lacuna in the petitioner’s case. The application was filed after nearly four and a half years of closing of evidence and also, admittedly, as many as four counsels were changed by the petitioner during this interregnum. The Court held that this was not a case where the petitioner could be said to have suffered due to inadvertence of the counsel.

The Court held that it was not a case where the Court was required to interfere with the order passed by the court below and hence the petition was dismissed. [Kishan Chand v. Soma Devi,  2018 SCC OnLine HP 378, decided on 3.4.2018]

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