Two orders in one case: Supreme Court asks Madras High Court Registrar-General to submit report

The certified copy of the order had crucial portions missing from what was pronounced by judges in open court

The certified copy of the order had crucial portions missing from what was pronounced by judges in open court

The Supreme Court on Friday expressed its shock at how a Madras High Court order seemed to have undergone a “substantial modification” from what was pronounced and signed by the judges in open court.

A Bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and BV Nagarathna described the turn of events as “very unusual”. It was taken back when counsel for the petitioner side, senior advocate K. Subramaniam, contended that crucial parts of the order were “altered”.

Mr. Subramaniam, to make his case true, pointed to two “different” versions of the same order pronounced by a Division Bench of the High Court on September 1.

He said the copy downloaded by the petitioner from the High Court website reflected the order pronounced in open court. But the certified copy of the order, issued a few days later, had crucial portions missing.

These portions include a direction to the respondent to deposit ₹ 111,62,90,724, together with the accrued interest, in the Indian Overseas Bank, Annanagar East branch, Chennai, in a fixed deposit. The part was very much there in the downloaded copy but conspicuously absent in the certified copy.

Moreover, the order of status quo in the website copy was modified into an order of interim injunction in the certified copy.

Mr. Subramaniam, a former Advocate-General of Tamil Nadu, submitted in the Supreme Court that he had never come across such a turn of events in his 50 years of legal practice.

The Bench responded that neither had they come across such orders in their experience of 40 years. Issuing notice, it directed the Madras High Court’s Registrar-General to submit a report in a sealed cover within four weeks, explaining the circumstances behind the two orders.

The order came in a case titled J. Mohammed Nazir versus Mahasemam Trust and another listed before Justice Rastogi’s Bench.

The case stems from allegations of diversion of funds from the public charitable trust to a company and the subsequent alienation of these assets through transfer to a third party, another company.

Mr. Subramaniam argued that the modifications made in the High Court order were contrary to Order XX Rule 3 of the Civil Procedure Code and the judgments of the Supreme Court which had held that the judgments pronounced in open court were final and should not be “reopened”. unless in exceptional circumstances.

“If what is pronounced in open court is not acted upon, certainly litigants would be prejudiced. Confidence of the litigants in the judicial process would be shaken,” Mr. Subramaniam quoted from the Supreme Court verdict in the Vinod Kumar Singh case of 1988.

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