Thursday, February 28, 2019

Gujarat HC orders FIR over mischief played with court record

The Gujarat high court has ordered its registry to lodge an FIR “in public interest” for mischief played with court records at the Mirzapur rural court. The HC asked the court authority to extend all possible assistance to the police. The high court ordered a police investigation in a case where a litigant found on a given date of hearing that the case was dismissed 20 days earlier. The HC inquired with the concerned judge but was not satisfied with the reply and concluded that she was trying to shield the court staff. The HC felt this was a fit case to order an FIR and observed, “For keep up the sanctity of orders of the court and to ensure that the common man does not lose faith in the system, for which an attempt to damage it from within was made, it is found expedient for the court to direct the lodging of an FIR.” Suspecting connivance between a few litigants and court staff, and feeling the need to unearth the truth, Justice Sonia Gokani in a recently released order said, “This is surely is a case wherein the public interest deserves redress by lodging of an FIR.” 

In this case, a widow, Punjiben Shakraji, had filed a civil suit in 2008 at the civil court on the Mirzapur court campus, seeking restraining orders against a couple of persons, that they should not dispossess her from a property, which was in dispute after a sale deed in 2005. The case was pending, and two persons joined the litigation midway. On May 9, 2017, when the hearing in this case was scheduled, Punjiben’s advocate found that the case had been dismissed by the court on April 19, 2017, because the petitioner did not appear. When the petitioner inquired about it, she learned that the hearing was advanced without informing her. The case was heard early though the date given to the petitioner was May 9, 2017. As soon as the case was dismissed, the opponents executed a sale deed within a week.
Punjiben’s power of attorney holder approached Shahpur police to lodge an FIR for mischief played with court documents, to advance the hearing. The police refused to register the FIR, saying that it was the subject matter of court proceedings. The HC was moved for the FIR. The high court ordered the principal district judge to conduct an inquiry last April, and the report did not reveal anything. When, the HC expressed its discontentment at the report, the district judge forwarded the concerned civil judge’s explanation, which said that due to the bulky case records in the court, two different sets of rojnamawere created with different hearing dates. The HC was furious and pulled up the lower court judges for shielding court staff who had played mischief with court records in connivance with litigants. The HC said the episode should be investigated by the police

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