Over the course of this piece, I shall attempt to provide you with a brief overview of all the recent directions issued by the SC to tackle the issue of high pendency in the Delhi HC (DHC).
We will be discussing 3 Orders:
i. 31st July Order.
ii. 16th August Order
iii. 24th October Order.
31st July Order
It all started when an SC Divisional bench, consisting of the refreshingly proactive Justices R. Gogoi & N. Sinha (Hereinafter, the “SC Bench“), heard an appeal against a DHC Interim Order involving the parties Az Tech and Intex Technologies.
On 31st July (2017), the SC Bench passed an Order noting that the DHC Interim Order under question wasn’t so much of an interim Order, as much as it was a thorough assessment of merits. The SC Bench wondered whether the same was a result of an underlying assumption, on the part of the DHC, that the final disposal of the case would take too long. Identifying the same as a “disturbing trend“, the SC Bench directed the Registrar General of the DHC to file a report on the issue of pendency.
16th August was scheduled as the next date of hearing for both the narrower concern of Az Tech & Intex, along with the broader concern of pendency.
I have covered the 31st July Order in detail here.
For SpicyIP’s considerable coverage on the broad Interim Injunction issue, refer here.
16th August Order
Coming back, on 16th August, the SC Bench issued another Order (accessible here).
Summarily directing the DHC to conclude the Az Tech & Intex case at the earliest, the matter was disposed off. But way more pertinent to our concerns is the fact that the SC Bench, through the same Order, initiated a Suo Moto Writ Petition titled “Re: Case Management of Original Suits”.
To that effect, the SC Bench directed the Registrar General of the DHC to file periodical reports on possible steps that are being taken and could be taken to address pendency concerns. The first of these periodical reports were to be filed on 15th October. While doing so, the Order took special care to mention that the Court wasn’t trying to interfere with the DHC’s functioning and was only attempting to work with HC’s to remedy the situation.
5. At the very outset, we make it clear that the present order should not be perceived to be any kind of interference in the administration of the Delhi High Court but has to be construed to be an effort on the part of the Judiciary as an institution to work out ways and means to dispose of long pending contested civil suits throughout the country for which purpose the Delhi High Court and, particularly, the IPR matters has been taken as the yardstick. The Hon’ble Judges of the Delhi High Court have to work out ways and means for effective disposal of the IPR matters before it so that a model for disposal of civil suits can be culled out from the ways and means adopted by the Delhi High Court which can form the basis of an uniform action plan for the rest of the country.
The Writ Petition issue was listed for 24th October, 2017.
24th October Order
On 24th October, the SC bench issued another Order (accessible here).
The Order stated that the Bench perused the Report filed by the DHC Registrar General, and noted the report’s request of 12 weeks for preparing a draft of amendments to the “Delhi High Court Original Side Rules and Practice Directions“.
“We have perused the report submitted by the Registrar General of the High Court of Delhi dated 13th October, 2017 pursuant to the previous order of this Court dated 16th August, 2017. In the said report, it has been, inter alia, stated that amendments to the Delhi High Court Original Side Rules and Practice Directions are being contemplated, the details whereof are available in paragraph 9 and 10 of the report. It has been further stated that “the High Court is currently in the process of preparing the first draft of the amendments to be carried out in the Delhi High Court Original Side Rules and Practice Directions, which effort would require a period of at least 12 more weeks.”
Next, the SC Bench directed the DHC to conclude and produce the same to the Court, within 8 weeks (as opposed to the requested 12 weeks).
“While taking the aforesaid report on record and further taking note of the steps taken by the High Court of Delhi for amendment of the Delhi High Court Original Side Rules and Practice Directions we are of the view that the High court should finalize the same within a period of eight weeks from today and lay the same before this Court for its perusal.“
The matter was listed for 14th December, 2017.
Meme by Prateek Surisetti.