Don't bite off more than you can chew: this the Delhi High Court’s advice to lawyers.
The court expressed concern over litigants losing cases just because lawyers, who are "busy in some other court", don’t have time to appear for their clients.
Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra's advice came while upholding a lower court's decision to dismiss a case filed by one Pushpa Devi as her lawyer was not present before it when the matter was listed for arguments on May 26, 2008.
Her husband urged the court to adjourn the matter, saying their lawyer was "busy in the Delhi High Court" but the Additional Sessions Judge was not in a mood to listen.
He went on to decide the matter without hearing Pushpa Devi's advocate though lawyers of the other side were present and addressed their arguments.
"The busyness of an advocate in another court is not a ground for seeking adjournment. If the advocate is so busy that he cannot attend the matter, he should not have accepted the brief", said Justice Dhingra.
"It was obligatory on the part of the advocate of the plaintiff to make himself present and to address arguments on the applications. The principles of natural justice only require giving an opportunity. This does not mean that the Court should adjourn the matter on the ground of busyness of the advocate," said the court.
Reacted lawyer Manish Srivastava who practises at the Tiz Hazari courts: "Things have really become difficult for lawyers like me after bifurcation of lower courts. But not for advocates part of a law firm with many lawyers who work as groups. Sometimes, I have to appear in courts in Rohini, Karkadooma and Tis Hazari which are in different parts of the capital the same day."