The Division bench of Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay and Justice Harish Tandon, of the Calcutta High Court recently observed that courts must consider practical “hard realities” before they decline to grant equitable relief citing delay in approaching the court. The Division bench said, “The legal principle ‘delay defeats equity’ is not abstruse nor to be perceived theoretically, but must be applied with the hard realities of today’s world and above all objectively. It is not a stray subjective consideration, but has an in-built objective values, which should always be borne in mind when a right or relief is denied on such equitable principle.”
In this particular case, the Hon’ble Trial Court had rejected to grant an ex-parte interim injunction. The Court cited the “considerable delay” on the part of the litigant in approaching the Court about a month after the cause of action had arisen as the reason for rejecting the plea. The Court was of the opinion that, injunctions are equitable reliefs and it is a well established maxim that “delay defeats equity”. Therefore the Court considering the same was not inclined to pass any order of ad-interim injunction at that stage of the trial.
- The High Court was of the opinion that the Trial Court erred in presuming that the litigant’s had a dormant attitude in approaching the Court.
- The Court said that it was improbable that a lawyer would not take time to decide and institute a suit before the court of law, they pointed to the fact that even judge’s take time while rendering judgments.
- The High Court recently observed that courts must consider practical “hard realities”before they decline to grant equitable relief citing delay in approaching the court.
The HC’s Order
The Division bench of Calcutta High Court, disagreeing to the order passed by the Trial Court said that the Trial Court had erred in presuming that the litigants had a dormant attitude while approaching the Court of law. The bench stated that it would be improbable that lawyer’s would not take 15 to 20 days of time to decide and institute a suit before the Court of law. The Division also highlighted to the fact that even the Judge’s take time while rendering judgments, for rationalizing the delay caused in filing of the suit. The Court stated:
“The human intelligence cannot be equated with the artificial intelligence; in judicial system when an approach is made to a legal expert, he has to collate the documents and also make his own assessment on the probability of success obviously upon the application of law relating thereto. Such assessment takes time and cannot be expected to be used on a click of the bottom, as the artificial intelligence does.”
In view of the above the Division bench of the High Court was of the stance that the challenged order of the Trial Court was testament to the fact that the learned judge had invented a circuitous path and has shirked his responsibility in recording the reasons on merit in refusing the plea of the litigants for ex-parte ad-interim order of injunction. The High Court wanted to interfere with the Trial Court’s order, but then they observed to the fact that the opposite party had moved an application for interim injunction before the Court.
In view of the above fact the High Court took critical note of the fact that far off date was fixed for the next hearing in the matter, which was fixed on August 2020. To this the court stated, “If the longer date is fixed for disposal of an application for injunction, it frustrates the main object of it and it is high time that the Judges should realize that the purpose of incorporating the provisions for temporary injunction is not only to protect and preserve the status of the property, but also to protect the rights pending final adjudication in the suit.”
With the above facts in mind the Division bench of the High Court directed the Trial Court to prepone the date of hearing fixed by the Court, if approached by either of the parties to the suit. In addition, the lower Court was also directed not to grant any unnecessary adjournments and put efforts to dispose of the matter as expeditiously as possible.
Edited by J. Madonna Jephi
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
1. Mina Deb &Ors. v. Sri Pradip Ranjan Deb & Ors., CAN 8604 of 2019/ F.M.A.T. 828 of 2019.