The Madras High Court was contemplating a new rule that petitions seeking writ of mandamus will not be entertained unless the petitioners had given at least two months' time to the public authorities against whom cases were filed for considering their representations, K. Venkataraman, a judge of the High Court, disclosed here on Thursday.
Delivering a lecture on Writ of Mandamus in Court Hall No. 1 of the Madras High Court Bench, the judge said that many lawyers were following a wrong practice of filing writ petitions within a few days of making representations to the officials concerned. “You should give sufficient/reasonable time to the other party to consider and pass orders on your representation,” he added.
Giving a word of caution to the Government officials also, the judge said that they could not afford to sit over the representations for an indefinite period without deciding the issue in one way or the other. He hoped that the Additional Advocate General who was among the audience would convey the message to the top officials who, in turn, could pass it on to their subordinates.
The judge recalled that in one case a poor widow and her two children had applied for a legal heir certificate. But a tahsildar kept their application pending for months together and so they were constrained to approach the High court. Irked over his attitude, the judge summoned him and asked for the reason for not considering her application. To everybody's surprise, the officer did not have any answer.
“This is one example of how the authorities were not acting in the way they are expected to act. They keep the applications pending for years together without passing any orders. If the official had disposed of the application within a reasonable time, the widow would have been spared of the burden of spending money, including the lawyer fee, for approaching this court,” Mr. Venkataraman said.
Stating that a writ of mandamus was an order issued by the High Court or the Supreme Court directing the State or any other authority to perform the bounden duty, the judge said that that the petitioner should also have a legal right to seek for a mandamus. “But most of the writ petitions are filed by persons who do not have any legal rights at all,” he said and urged the lawyers to attend to the issue.
The judge also expressed surprise over writ petitions being filed for enforcing decrees or judgements passed by civil courts. He said: “Day in and day out, I find writ petitions being to enforce legal rights which could be enforced only by a civil forum by way of execution petitions. Please do not file such vexatious litigations. Otherwise, I may be constrained to dismiss those writ petitions.”
Earlier, F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla, administrative judge of the Madurai Bench, said that the lawyers should have great concern for the society and social order. Two other High Court judges, R.S. Ramanathan and K.B.K. Vasuki, also participated in the lecture, the second of the a five-lecture series organised jointly by the Indian Law Institute and the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court Bar Association.