December 7, 2021

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Free access to justice inbuilt in judicial system where rule of law prevails: SC

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Free access to justice inbuilt in judicial system where rule of law prevails: SC
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Free access to justice inbuilt in judicial system where rule of law prevails: SC
Free access to justice inbuilt in judicial system where rule of law prevails: SC

NEW DELHI: The free access and unfettered right to justice are inbuilt in our judicial system where the rule of law prevails and any attempt to obstruct the course cannot be lightly taken, the Supreme Court Thursday said.
The apex court observed while setting aside the orders, including the one issuing bailable warrants against a director of a private firm, passed by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).
A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said bailable warrants are to be issued as a “last resort” and only in a case where it is found that opponent parties are not cooperating at all and are avoiding appearance before the commission deliberately or are not represented at all either through their authorised representative or their counsel.
The top court delivered the verdict on a plea challenging the NCDRC’s orders passed in a matter in which the complainant had alleged that he was pressurized by the representatives of the two opposite parties to force him into a settlement, which according to him was neither amicable nor voluntary.
“It cannot be disputed that free access and unfettered right to approach/justice, as permissible by law, is inbuilt in our judicial system where rule of law prevails. Any attempt to impede or obstruct the course of justice, not to speak of exercising any coercion against anybody, who is before the court or authority in order to seek justice, cannot be lightly taken or be countenanced with,” the top court said.
The NCDRC had directed the issuance of a bailable warrant against the director of the firm as he had not appeared before it, either personally or through video-conferencing, as ordered earlier by the commission.
In its judgement, the apex court said subsequently, if at all it is found that anybody has tried to pressurise the original complainant to enter into a settlement or any threatening visits were made to his residence, further order can be passed by the commission.
The bench observed that the case of the complainant is yet to be adjudicated upon by the commission and opportunities are to be given to the opposite parties.
It noted that the petitioner firm before the apex court was appearing before the commission through its advocate and authorised representatives.
“In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the orders dated August 26, 2021, and September 3, 2021, directing …. director of the appellant company to personally remain present through physical mode or through video conferencing and the subsequent order dated September 16, 2021, issuing bailable warrants against him are quashed and set aside,” the bench said.
It also noted that if the allegations made by the complainant which was recorded in the NCDRC’s order of August 26 are found to be true, the same is very serious and can be said to be interfering in the administration of justice.
It said the allegations are yet to be considered in detail by the commission after allowing the opposite parties.
The top court said it would be open for the commission to pass further orders after allowing both the opposite parties to represent their case on the allegations made by the complainant.
The bench said it would also be open for the commission to require the presence of the director of the firm, if required, in the future.
Noting that an application seeking recall of one of the orders passed by the commission is pending before the NCDRC, it said the same be heard and decided under law and on merits without being influenced by any of the observations made in this verdict.

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