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Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar

Ramon Services Pvt. Ltd (petitioner) vs Subhash Kapoor (respondent) and Others

14 November 2000 CASE NO.:Appeal (civil) 6385 2000

BENCH:S.P.Sethi

FACTS of the case:

1) Appellant company was in occupation of a building as tenant at Barakhamba road, Delhi. A Suit was filed against the appellant for eviction from the building and other consequential reliefs which were resisted by the appellant by raising various contentions.

2) Issues in the suit were framed by the court and the case was posted for trial on 26.8.1998.

3) None of the advocates belonging to the firm of lawyers which was engaged by the appellant appeared before the court because they were in on a strike called by the advocates association concerned.

4) As nobody for the appellant was present the court set the appellant ex-parte and evidence of the plaintiff was recorded and 26.8.1998 suit was listed for 14.9.1998.

5) However, on that date also, no steps were taken by the appellants. Subsequent thereto an application was filed by the appellant whose head office was situated in Mumbai under Order 9 Rule 7 of the Code of Civil Procedure which was dismissed on 13.10.1998 and thereafter the trial court decreed the suit on 13.11.1998.

6) The appellants thereafter filed an application under Order 7 Rule 13 of the Code of Civil Procedure praying for setting aside ex parte judgment-decree dated 13.11.1998. But the application was dismissed by the trial court with costs. The appellant thereafter approached the High Court with an appeal against the aforesaid order. The High Court concurred with the finding of the trial court and dismissed the appeal holding that no bonafide and reasonable ground has been put forward by the appellants or their counsel for non-appearance on 26.8.1998 and therefore are not entitled to any relief. A notice was issued to the appellant to show cause why the petitioner shouldn't be allowed to realize the cost from the said advocate.

7) The replying affidavit filed admitted that the firm was engaged in the said suit. And explained their non-appearance on the following premises: it was stated that the appellants were advised on 24.8.1998 by their counsel telephonically that due to Delhi Bar Association resolution none of the advocates would be appearing in the matter.

8)It was averred that as the appellant is based in Mumbai they failed to attend the matter on 26.8.1998 when the suit was directed to have proceeded ex-parte and then the evidence of the plaintiff was recorded and the suit was directed to be listed on 14.10.1998. It is stated that although the Director of the Company came to the court on 14.9.1998 he was informed that the matter was listed only for orders and accordingly the Director returned to Mumbai after appointing an attorney to conduct the matter on behalf of the appellant.

9) It was held that the fact remained that appellant was set ex-parte due to the absence of appellant and his counsel in the court on the date of hearing . But taking into consideration the special circumstances of the case the court was inclined to set aside the ex-parte order on some terms.

10) The appellant was to pay a sum of rs 50,000 as to the costs to the respondent within one month and on such payment would the ex-parte order dated 26.8.1998 stand aside

JUDGEMENT of the case: The Apex Court in this case, considering all previous judgments had held that the strike/boycott by the lawyers affects not just the Members of the legal profession, but obstructs the process of Court, which is intended to secure Justice. The relevant observations made by the Apex Court in the said case are:
When the advocate who was engaged by a party was on strike there is no obligation on the part of the court either to wait or to adjourn the case on that account. Time and again this Court has said that an advocate has no right to stall the court proceedings on the ground that advocates have decided to strike or to boycott the courts or even boycott any particular court.It had been further observed that Generally strikes are antithesis of progress, prosperity, and development. Strikes by the professionals including the advocates cannot be equated with strikes undertaken by the industrial workers in accordance with the statutory provisions. The services rendered by the advocates to their clients are regulated by a contract between the two besides statutory limitations, restrictions and guidelines incorporated in the Advocates Act, the rules made thereunder and rules of procedure adopted by the Supreme Court and the High Courts. Abstaining from the courts by the advocates, by and large, does not only affect the persons belonging to the legal profession but also hampers the process of justice sometimes urgently needed by the consumers of justice, the litigants. The legal profession is essentially a service-oriented profession. The relationship between the lawyer and his client is one of trust and confidence.

Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar

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