Nagpur: Rejecting a plea challenging the legality of a circular issued by the Chief Justice and other judges, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court made it clear that the Constitution of India conferred on it the power to establish general rules for the regulation of legal practice and it cannot be interfered with by the government.
“Under Article 227(2) read together with Article 235, the power has been conferred on HC to draw up various acts. This included the development and publication of general rules and the prescription of forms for the regulation of the practice and procedure of the courts in respect of which SC has the power to supervise. This power is exclusive to HC under the “separation of powers” doctrine. It cannot be interfered with or encroached upon by any other wing of government,” said a divisional bench consisting of judges Sunil Shukre and Anil Pansare.
Adding that under the constitutional regime, there is a separation of powers between the executive, the legislature and the HC, the bench said each wing of governance is supreme in its own sphere of powers.
The HC Circular dated July 14, 2021 directed attorneys and litigants that all pleadings, petitions, affidavits or other documents submitted to the registry on the judicial side for filing at the HC and its benches in Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji (Goa) and all other courts throughout the state shall be in a manner and specifications provided by this one.
Accordingly, the deposit must be made on high quality A4 size paper having at least 75 GSM with double-sided printing. Times New Roman or Georgia fonts should be used in size 14 with an inside margin of 5 cm and an outside margin of 3 cm. This circular also states that even for internal communications, similar types of paper with similar specifications should be used.
Calling the circular illegal and ultra vires Section 166, petitioner Abhijeet Bhalerao, a lawyer, argued that it was HC’s Executive Order that was not issued in the Governor’s name as required. sections 166(1) and 166(2).
Praying for the reinstatement of the position by July 14, 2021, the petitioner requested permission from the attorneys to file pleadings and submissions on legal paper without any objection from the Registry staff. He also demanded that the practice of filing pleadings and pleadings on A4 paper only for a fixed period of time be maintained and terminated after a certain period of time.
The judges said that what is provided in sections 166(1) and 166(2) would not apply when it comes to the exercise of powers by HC under section 227(2) read with article 235 of the Constitution. “It is for the Chief Justice and other HC Justices to exercise the powers specified in these sections without interfering with or interfering with the executive powers of government and vice versa. Therefore, the argument that the July 14 circular violates Article 166 is unfounded,” they said before rejecting the plea.