Can I file SLP in Supreme Court against delay by High Court in deciding my petition?


Question: I have filed a petition in the high court under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code for quashing of the criminal proceedings. Now, already one year has passed but the high court is not deciding this petition. Only dates after dates are being given. Sometimes, the matter is not even heard by high court on the date given. I am facing hardships and mental tension due to this case. It is leading to health problems as well as financial problems since I am not able to do my work properly. I want to file SLP in the Supreme Court against this delay by the high court. Please advise me.

Answer: Special Leave Petition (SLP) is filed in the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, which is reproduced below:

136. Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court.—(1) Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the Supreme Court may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India.

(2) Nothing in clause (1) shall apply to any judgment, determination, sentence or order passed or made by any court or tribunal constituted by or under any law relating to the Armed Forces.”

You can notice that such SLP can be filed only to seek leave to appeal against any “judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order”. In brief, there must be some order, etc., which is to be challenged in the SLP in the form of an appeal. In your case, there is no such order, as yet, from the high court, which you can challenge in the form of SLP before the Supreme Court. The order is yet to be passed by the high court. In fact, your own grievance is that the high court is not passing any order in your case.

In such circumstances, it is difficult for you to file SLP against the inaction or delay caused by the high court in your matter.

However, there is another option of filing a writ petition before the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution. Such writ petition can be filed for enforcement of fundamental rights, i.e., when your fundamental rights are being violated.

Since speedy trial has been recognized as a fundamental right under Article 21, you can say that your fundamental right has been violated due to delay in deciding your case by the high court. So, technically speaking, it should be possible for you to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking direction to the high court to expedite the hearing of your case.

However, from practical point of view, there is hardly any chance to succeed in such a writ petition. Firstly because, nowadays, the Supreme Court is quite reluctant to accept new petitions under Article 32 of the Constitution. Secondly, delay of one year in a proceeding is not unusual. There are more than 3 crore cases pending in various courts in India. Most of these cases are pending for several years, and many of them for decades also. Due to insufficient judicial strength and various other reasons, delay is quite routine nowadays in courts. Delay of one year will not be considered as abnormal. It has, unfortunately, become a routine thing, that nobody in courts bothers about. Therefore, there is hardly any chance for you to succeed in your writ petition in Supreme Court on this ground of delay. So, I would not advise you to file a writ petition on the ground of delay of one year, keeping in consideration my experience in courts.

On the other hand, what I think would be more appropriate is that you may request the high court to expedite your case by highlighting the difficulties that you are facing. If the high court is convinced about your difficulties (there is no guarantee that it will be convinced, due to most petitioners facing similar problems), it may expedite the disposal of your petition.

About Dr. Ashok Dhamija

Dr. Ashok DhamijaDr. Ashok Dhamija is a New Delhi based Supreme Court Advocate, holds Ph.D. in Constitutional Law, is author of 3 law books, and is an ex-IPS officer. He is the founder of this law portal. Read more by clicking here. List of his articles. List of his Forum Replies. List of his Quora Answers. List of his YouTube Videos.

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