The Supreme Court clarified Order XX of Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) which provides a time limit for the courts to deliver judgments, will not apply to High Courts.
In an order issued on February 12, a Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and BR Gavai said that if there is a six months hiatus between the reservation and delivery of a judgement, either party can move an application to the Chief Justice of the High Court, who can then decide whether the matter be heard afresh.
The Bench was hearing an appeal filed against a judgment of a Division Bench of the Himachal Pradesh High Court which overturned a judgment on 29th December 2020 of the single-judge on the grounds that the delivery of the judgement was delayed by nine months.
The single-judge had concluded hearing and reserved its verdict on December 24, 2019. The judgment was announced on September 30, 2020. The Division Bench had relied on Order XX of CPC to overturn the verdict of the single-judge.
Order XX states that after hearing the case, the court shall pronounce judgment in an open court, either immediately or as soon thereafter, as it may be practicable.
It also added that if the judgment is not pronounced immediately, the court will make every effort to pronounce the judgment within thirty days from the date on which the hearing of the case was concluded. If this is impractical due to the extraordinary circumstances of the case, the court will determine a future day for the delivery of the judgment, and that day cannot normally be more than sixty days after the date on which the hearing of the case was held.
However, The Supreme Court relied on its judgment in Anil Rao case to hold that the Order XX of the CPC does not apply to the High Court.
It also added that no such application was moved in the present case.
Therefore, the Court set aside the judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court and referred the matter back to the Division Bench to be heard again and be decided on merits.