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Debi Ram Sharma Vs. High Court of Judicature for the State of Punjab - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtPunjab and Haryana High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ No. 1008 of 1961
Judge
Reported inAIR1963P& H46
ActsPunjab Courts Act, 1918 - Sections 46A; Punjab High Court Rules and Orders - Rule 5, 6 and 37; Constitution of India - Article 226
AppellantDebi Ram Sharma
RespondentHigh Court of Judicature for the State of Punjab
Appellant Advocate M.R. Sharma and; Ram Rang, Advs.
Respondent Advocate H.S. Doabia, Addl. Adv. General
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredPramatha Nath v. Chief Justice of
Excerpt:
.....had previously been rejected, and seeking orders whether the application of the petitioner be rejected or the matter be placed before a meeting of the judges. chief justice of the high court, calcutta, air 1961 cal 545 (sb), that an important question has arisen whether a writ petition like the present is or is not maintainable against the high court. amongthese rules is rule 30 which provides for penaltyfor inefficiency, misconduct and the like. there is no other basis than provided in this sub-rule for relaxation of sub-rule (i). rules relating to suspension of a license or dismissal of a petition-writer which practically means, cancellation of the licence obviously apply only during the currency of the licence and when finding is against the petition-writer on charge of..........babu ram in the place where he was to practise there were no licensed petition-writers and he was granted licence upon the representation and demand of the local inhabitants and the local judicial officers. on this note the learned chief justice proceeded to pass an order on november 11, 1959, accepting the recommendation of the district judge and granting the licence to the petitioner. upon this, this court office wrote a letter, copy annexure a, to the district judge on november ii, 1959, saying that licence under rule 5(ii)(b) be issued to the petitioner, and accordingly the licence was granted to the petitioner on payment of prescribed fee.3. subsequently a complaint, dated september 7, 1960, was received signed by eight petition-writers from gurgaon and one petition-writer as.....
Judgment:

Mehar Singh, J.

1. The petitioner, Debi Ram Sharma, was Naib Nazir in the Court of the Subordinate Judge at Gurgaon, though he was officiating as a Reader in that Court, when he retired sometime in the year 1957 as stated in paragraph I of the petition.

2. It appears that the learned Chief Justice inspected Courts at Gurgaon in October, 1959. Sometime in September 1959 the petitioner had applied for the grant of a petition-writer's licence on the ground that his pension was meagre and he could hardly make his both ends meet. He made another application on October 26, 1959 upon which the learned Chief Justice called for report. The District Judge of Rohtak, who was also District Judge for Gurgaon, on November 4, 1959, made a report that the petitioner had a pension of Rs. 28/- per mensem which was insufficient for the needs of his family and that to enable him to supplement his income ho was constrained to seek licence as a petition-writer. He pointed out that the petitioner is a Matriculate and retired as an officiating Reader from the Court of the Subordinate Judge.

In the circumstances he recommended for the grant of the licence to him. On November 9, 1959, the Registrar put up note before the learned Chief Justice about the application of the petitioner pointing out that a similar application, which had also been recommended by the local District Judge, of a retired Reader of the District Court in Ludhiana, had previously been rejected, and seeking orders whether the application of the petitioner be rejected or the matter be placed before a meeting of the Judges. On this note the learned Chief Justice on November 10, 1959, made an order that a detailed note about precedents connected with the matter be placed before him. Consequently another note, dated November 10, 1959, was put up and in that note were cited two instances, one from Hamirpur in Kangra District and the other of one Babu Ram, both of whom were unqualified to be petition-writers but had been granted petition-writer's licence under Rule 5 (ii) (b) of the rules made under Section 46-A of the Punjab Courts Act, 1918 (Punjab Act VI of 1918), and published in Chapter 17-B of Volume I of this Court's Rules and Orders.

In the case from Hamirpur there were other local petition-writers already with licences but in the case of Babu Ram in the place where he was to practise there were no licensed petition-writers and he was granted licence upon the representation and demand of the local inhabitants and the local judicial officers. On this note the learned Chief Justice proceeded to pass an order on November 11, 1959, accepting the recommendation of the District Judge and granting the licence to the petitioner. Upon this, this Court office wrote a letter, copy annexure A, to the District Judge on November II, 1959, saying that licence under Rule 5(ii)(b) be issued to the petitioner, and accordingly the licence was granted to the petitioner on payment of prescribed fee.

3. Subsequently a complaint, dated September 7, 1960, was received signed by eight petition-writers from Gurgaon and one petition-writer as president of the petition-writers' association of Gurgaon, in which they pointed out that the grant of the licence to the petitioner offends the mandatory rules in this respect made by this Court and further that the petitioner retired not only with pension but he had assets is the bank and was a landlord and biswedar owning immoveable property in his village Easai, a village only a mile away from Gurgaon. They also pointed out that while the petitioner on retirement had been granted a licence, that was not done in the case of others who were retiring almost every day. This complaint of the petition-writers of Gurgaon was considered at a meeting of the Full Court in which all the Judges present at Chandigarh participated.

The office note pointed out that in the caseof Hamirpur there were already sis petition-writersat that place but in spite of that one Radha Kishanwas granted a petition-writer's licence becausehe was a crippled man with a large family whichhe was unable to support. In regard to thesecond instance of Babu Ram it was pointed outthat he was granted a restricted licence for a particular named place on a representation of theresidents of the surrounding area and supportedby the demand of the local officers that there wasgreat inconvenience for want of a petition-writerin the area. On this the matter came before themeeting in which the case was discussed and considered and this resolution was adopted on October 7, 1960 :

'Representation of some petition-writers of Gurgaon for the cancellation of Shri Debi Ram's license was considered along with the note of the Registrar on the subject. It was decided that the District and Sessions Judge, Rohtak, be asked not to renew the license of Shri Debi Ram after the expiry of the present term.'

In regard to this in the letter addressed to the District Judge of Rohtak, copy annennre B, after saying that the licence of the petitioner was not to be renewed after the expiry of the then term, it was pointed out that the petitioner beinformed of the order. On the petitioner having been conveyed the substance of the order about his licence, he made a representation, dated November 24, 1960, against the same. His main grievance therein, after pointing out the circumstances in which the licence was granted to him, was that he should have been heard before renewal of his licence could be stopped. He also, pointed out that such an order could not be made against him without complying with the rules in regard to disciplinary action against a petition-writer. This representation was turned down by the learned Chief Justice on February 1, 1961, and the petitioner was informed accordingly.

4. It is after that that the petitioner filed the petition under Article 226 of the Constitution for issue of a writ in the nature of certiorari, mandamus, or any other writ, order or direction quashing the order of this Court as communicated to him with this Court's letter copy annexure C, informing him about the rejection of his representations or what he has described as a review petition. A writ in the nature of certiorari has been claimed and we considered it appropriate to call for the record of the case and to peruse it. We have seen the file and the learned counsel for the parties have been given every opportunity to see the relevant papers on the file but they have not seen them though they had been informed in considerable detail of the purport of the same, which is substantially reproduced above.

Some of the facts are detailed in the petition and the others for the sake of clarity have been taken from the record produced before us. The respondent to the petition is the High Court through its Registrar. In the return by the respondent, of course, the order made with regard to the non-renewal of the petition-writer's licence of the petitioner is supported and most of the facts as already given are accepted. It is pointed out that the rules in regard to disciplinary matters such as Rule 34 have no application to this case and action has been taken in regard to the petitioner under Rule 37 according to which the High Court has an overall power of superintendence and control in the matter of licence issued or renewed in the case of petition-writers. It is said that the-petition is misconceived and not competent.

5. This case came for hearing in the beginning before Grover J. and the learned Judge has been of the opinion, particularly having regard to the views of the learned Judges in Pramatha Nath v. Chief Justice of the High Court, Calcutta, AIR 1961 Cal 545 (SB), that an important question has arisen whether a writ petition like the present is or is not maintainable against the High Court. In this view the learned Judge has referred the matter to a larger Bench and this is how this petition has come before us. No specific question has been referred to this Bench, but it is the petition as a whole that is before us for disposal. Mr. Ram Rang has appeared for the petitioner and Mr. Som Dat Bahri for the respondent.

6. In the Rules, in Part B, Rule 1 provides that no person shall practise as a petition-writer unless he has been duly licensed under the Rules. There are two provisos to this rule but those are not material for the present purpose. Rule 2 prohibits receipt of petitions by a Court or any officer of the Court unless written by the party or his recognised agent, or by a legal practitioner, or by a petition-writer. Rule 3 prohibits licensing of a person as a petition-writer while he is in the Government service or in the service of a legal practitioner. Rule 4 provides for two grades of petition-writers. Rules 5 and 6 are in these terms:

5. (i) No person shall be licensed to practise as a petition-writer unless he has qualified in an examination prescribed by the rules in force be-fore 20th November, 1936, which has been held or arranged to be held before that date.

(ii) The above rule may be relaxed by the High Court in special cases, where local circumstances make it desirable to do so.

(iii) The license shall be in form A annexedto these rules, and will be granted by the DistrictJudge concerned with the previous sanction ofthe High Court in each case.

6. A fee of Rs. 5/- shall be charged for each licence on enrollment provided that this fee will be reduced to half for licences granted on or after the Ist of March in each year. Such licenses will be valid only up to the 31st day of August, in each year and will be renewable between the 1st and 31st days of August on payment of a renewal fee of Rs. 5/-. Fees will, in all cases, be payable in court-fee stamps.'

Rules 7 and 8 concern conditions on which licence will remain in force and production andsuspension of licence. Rule 9 provides for transfer of place of business and Rule 10 makes provision for a duplicate licence in case the licence is lost or damaged. Part C of the Rules coveringRules II to 24-A concern conduct of petition-writers. These include rule at providing for circumstances in which a petition-writer may surrender his licence and Rule 22 which says that every petition-writer who gives up practising for, over three years shall have his name struck off the register. There is a note to this rule that a petition-writer whose name has been removed afterthree years' absence will be at liberty to apply for the restoration of his licence provided that there is a vacancy on the prescribed scale. He shall however, be treated in this respect on the same footing as a fresh applicant.

Part D of the Rules, from Rules 25 to 37,concerns procedure in dealing with breaches ofrules by petition-writers and penalties. Amongthese rules is Rule 30 which provides for penaltyfor inefficiency, misconduct and the like. Rule 37says :

'Nothing in the foregoing rules shall be deemed to limit or restrict the exercise by the High Court of its general powers of superintendence and control.'

It is evident that the Rules envisage that the profession of petition-writers will ultimately come to an end when those granted licence under Rule 5 (i) are no longer there for that sub-rule limits the grant of licence Only to such persons who qualified in a petition-writers examination under the rules in force before November 20, 1936. It is only Sub-rule (ii) of this rule which is an exception and under that sub-rule the only basisof the exception is that Sub-rule (i) may be relaxed in special cases where local circumstances make it desirable to do so. There is no other basis than provided in this sub-rule for relaxation of Sub-rule (i).

Rules relating to suspension of a license or dismissal of a petition-writer which practically means, cancellation of the licence obviously apply only during the currency of the licence and when finding is against the petition-writer on charge of misconduct and the like. The power of renewal of a license is given under Rule 6 and the normal currency of a licence expires on August 31 every year, unless the licence is renewed for the ensuing year. This power of renewal which vests in the District Judge is subject to the supervisory power of the High Court under Rule 37 which deals with its power of superintendence and control in this matter.

7. The petitioner's is not a case in whichany action has been taken in regard to him underthe disciplinary rules. What has happened is thathis having obtained a licence under Rule 5 (ii),this rule is verbatim the same as the old Rule 5(ii)(b),before the expiry of his licence on August 31, 1961,the High Court issued direction under Rule 37 tothe District Judge of Rohtak by the letter, copyannexure B of October 17, 1960, not to renewhis licence for the ensuing year. The facts are notdisputed that the ground on which the petitionerobtained his licence was a ground personal to himinasmuch as it was said that his pension wasmeagre and that he was unable to make his bothends meet.

It is evident from the complaint of the petition-writers of Gurgaon that at the time when the petitioner was granted licence there were nine petition-writers already in Gurgaon. There is no material and there has not even been suggestion that the local circumstances of Gurgaon justify the grant of a licence to another petition-writer. Under Rule 5 (ii), the rigour of Sub-rule (i) of that rule can only be relaxed where the local circumstances make that desirable but not otherwise. It cannot be relaxed on a ground personal to a particular individual.

So the petitioner could not have been granted licence under Rule 5 (ii) and the grant of licence to him under that rule wag in itself contrary to that rule. It probably was made under some misapprehension consequent upon consideration of the three precedents to which reference has already been made. But of those three precedents in the case of one from Ludhiana the application was refused, in the case of Babu Ram the grant came strictly within the letter of Rule 5 (ii), and it was (sic) in the case of Hamirpur that the grant of the licence could hardly be said to have been ac-cording to Rule 5 (ii).

The weight of the precedents was, therefore, against the application of Sub-rule (ii) of Rule 5 to the case of the petitioner and, as already pointed out, the terms of that Sub-rule did not admit of relaxation of Sub-rule (i) in favour of the petitioner and grant of the licence to him. The initial grant of licence to the petitioner was contrary to Rule 5. On receipt of the complaint of thepetition-writers or Gurgaon the order of the learned Chief Justice in favour of the petitioner was considered by the Full Court in an administrative meeting and on finding that the petitioner could not have been granted licence under Rule 5, it was resolved not to cancel his licence immediately but not to renew it after the end of the year, that is to say, after August 31, 1961.

What the resolution of the Full Court has done is merely to rectify an obvious case of mistake and to put an end to the perpetuation of that mistake by allowing a licence to be renewed which has initially been granted to the petitioner against the provisions of Rule 5. In the circumstances the decision of the Full Court in its meeting being in conformity with Rule 5 is obviously correct and not open to question.

In these circumstances there is absolutely no justification for exercising discretion in favour of the petitioner under Article 226 and interfering with the resolution of the Full Court at its meeting, assuming that this Bench can do so under that Article. On this ground the petitioner cannot succeed in this petition for the refusal to renew his licence, a licence obtained contrary to Rule 5, is just from any consideration.

8. An argument has been urged by Mr. Som Dat Bahri that, in any case, this Bench cannot issue a writ to the High Court itself nor can it interfere with an administrative order of the Full Court. For the first proposition reliance has been placed on In Re Babul Chandra Mitra, AIR 1952 Pat 309 (FB), and the opinion of Bose J. in Pramatha Nath Mitter's case, AIR 1961 Cal 545. In the circumstances of the case and in view of the conclusion reached above I do not consider that we are called upon to adjudicate upon these matters.

9. The consequence is that the petition of the petitioner is dismissed, but, in the circumstances, the parties are left to their own costs.

Shamsher Bahadur, J.

10. I agree.

Gurdev Singh, J.

11. I agree.


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