CHENNAI: To ensure counter affidavits are filed on time, the Madras High Court has directed its Registrar- general to restore Rule 3-A of Rules to Regulate Proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution or to effect necessary amendments in the rule, enabling the parties to the writ petitions to file their counter-affidavits and the documents within the time to be stipulated in the rule to be issued.
Rule 3-A of the Rules to Regulate Proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution has not been incorporated by the High Court in the Rule Nisi Notice, which is to be issued to the parties in the writ petition. Though the rule was amended in 1965, till today, it has not been incorporated in the Rule Nisi Notice being issued by the High Court.
“When the State is not representing its case, then it is to be construed that the “State” fails in its duty to protect the Constitutional mandates and perspectives. Thus, it is very much important to ensure that counter statements are filed by the respondent officials within a reasonable period of time, enabling this court to adjudicate the cases properly, when it is taken up for final hearing,” Justice S M Subramaniam said.
He passed the order after revenue divisional officer of Ponneri and Tahsildar of Gummidipoondi failed to file counters to a writ petition filed by one Nallasura Ravi Reddy. “ It is frequently noticed that counter affidavits and related documents are not filed in large number of writ petitions now pending before HC. The State officials and competent authorities, who all are respondents in the writ petitions, are not initiating any effective steps to file counter affidavits and the related documents and produce files, wherever necessary within a reasonable period of time,” the judge observed.
“The Rule was suspended by the HC in Notification No.188 of 2013 dated July 2, 2013. The reasons for the suspension of Rule is not known to this court. But, this court is of a considered opinion that an outer time limit for filing of the counter affidavits and documents to be fixed to the parties to the writ petitions. The outer time limit to be fixed by the High Court is to be informed to the parties to the writ petitions through the Rule Nisi Notice issued by the HC, enabling the respondents to know that the counter affidavits and the documents are to be filed within the time limit prescribed in the notice,” the judge observed.
“The Registrar general, HC of Madras is directed to take necessary action in this regard for effective and speedy disposal of the writ petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India before the High Court,” the judge said and posted the next hearing on September 19.