J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday rejected at the admission stage a special leave petition filed by the manager of Kodanad Estate in Kothagiri taluk of the Nilgiris district to quash a Madras High Court Division Bench order, directing posting of related cases “before the regular court,” though a major portion of the hearing had been completed.

R. Ravichandran had challenged an order passed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Coonoor, for removal of obstructions on the road passing through patta lands on the estate.

The order warned that it should be complied within 24 hours, failing which penalty under the provisions of Indian Penal Code would be imposed.

Initially, a single judge heard the petition. Thereafter, a Division Bench posted it before another judge. The SLP was directed against this order.

A Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice Aftab Alam dismissed the SLP after hearing Guru Krishnakumar, counsel for the petitioner, who contended that the High Court Chief Justice could not pass a judicial order posting the matter to another judge when arguments had almost come to an end and when it was ready for reserving order.

The CJI told counsel: “It is the prerogative of the Chief Justice [of the High Court] to post a matter before a particular judge. It happens here and in every High Court.”

Counsel said, “In this case the Chief Justice had passed a judicial order and not an administrative order.”

The CJI asked: “What do you want? You are Bench hunting. The Chief Justice [of the High Court] knows many things which you may not know. You have absolutely no right to say that your matter should be heard by a particular judge.”

When counsel said that it was a bona fide petition, the CJI said, “It is bereft of bona fide, we will not entertain such matters.”

The SLP stated that the order under Section 141 (1) (Procedure on order being made absolute and consequences of disobedience) was passed without providing an opportunity to him. With its passing, the proceedings initiated under Section 133 Cr.P.C. (conditional order for removal of nuisance) had come to an end. The order was final.

Baseless

It said the road was a private service road wholly belonging to the estate for at least the last 100 years. It was not a thoroughfare, and hence the SDM’s order was illegal. The proceedings were baseless and initiated for political reasons.

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