'Rules Permitting Litigants To Argue Matters Personally Are Regulatory': Bombay High Court

'Rules Permitting Litigants To Argue Matters Personally Are Regulatory': Bombay High Court

The high court dismissed a petition filed by a former judicial officer, Naresh Vaze, challenging a September 2015 notification – Rules for Presentation and Conduct of Proceedings in-Person by Parties.

FPJ News ServiceUpdated: Tuesday, May 07, 2024, 10:28 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | PTI

Mumbai: The Rules framed for granting permission to litigants to argue their matters personally are regulatory and are not contrary to the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression and equality before the law, the Bombay High Court said on Tuesday.

The high court dismissed a petition filed by a former judicial officer, Naresh Vaze, challenging a September 2015 notification – Rules for Presentation and Conduct of Proceedings in-Person by Parties.

The court noted that the Rules are not prohibitive to offend the provisions of Article 14 (equality before law) and 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression) of the Constitution of India.

“The Rules are merely regulatory in nature and have been framed to enable presentation and conduct of proceedings by a party-in-person smoothly to facilitate the administration of justice,” a bench headed by Justices AS Chandurkar said.

Vaze claimed that the Rules deny the right of audience to a litigant and hence it contravenes constitutional rights. Under the Rules, if a petitioner is desirous of arguing his or her case on their own, they must first appear before a two-member committee comprising officials of HC’s registry department.

The committee would scrutinise the matter and interact with the person and thereafter submit a report indicating if the person would be able to argue properly or whether an advocate could be appointed to assist the court.

Once a person is found to be competent to appear personally before the court, he or she has to give an undertaking that they would maintain decorum of the court and would not use objectionable or unparliamentary language or behaviour in court. Failure to abide by such undertaking would result in initiation of contempt proceedings.

The bench said that there is no blanket prohibition for a party to appear in person before the court. “The Rules merely regulate the manner in which a party who desires to appear in person is required to take steps to facilitate the same,” HC said.

The court said the Rules were framed only with an objective that the time of the Court is not spent on unnecessary details and that the party-in-person is in a position to render necessary assistance to the court to decide the matter.

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