A judge who has taken over a partly-heard case cannot pronounce judgement unless he himself has heard the oral arguments, the Bombay High Court has said.
The observation was made in connection with a case where arguments were over, but the High Court said that trial would have to start all over again. Pune-based Rukhana Associates had filed a civil suit against E-square Leisure Pvt Ltd. The trial initially proceeded before Civil Judge Chilbule, who recorded evidence of witnesses.
In January, the judge also heard the oral arguments, and in addition, asked the parties to submit a gist of arguments which they did.
But before he could start writing the judgement, he was transferred and was replaced by Judge A P Raghuvanshi, Civil Judge, Senior Division. When Rukhana Associates' lawyer sought a date for restarting oral arguments, the judge held that since oral arguments had been heard once by earlier judge and written gist was before the court, fresh arguments were not necessary.
The new judge pronounced judgement, dismissing the suit. The plaintiffs then moved the HC, saying the judge should have heard arguments anew. The division bench agreed, holding that "the judgement can be pronounced only by the judge who has heard the arguments".