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High Court Must Respect Exercise Of Discretionary Powers By District Judiciary, Cannot Play Role Of Headmaster: Delhi High Court

“The High Court is required, at all times, to respect the exercise of discretionary powers by the district judiciary and not to act in a manner as could convey an impression that the court is playing the role of headmaster,” the Delhi High Court has observed.

Justice C Hari Shankar further added that if the High Court starts interfering with the orders passed by district judiciary in exercise of Article 227 of the Constitution of India, it is “bound to shake the confidence of the district judiciary” and “seriously impede the dispassionate exercise of discretion vested in them.”

“In my considered opinion, it is only as a matter of chance hierarchal circumstance that this Court is “above” the district judiciary. Else, the district judiciary, and the learned Courts of which it is comprised, exercise jurisdiction which, subjectively, is co-equal to the jurisdiction exercised by this Court,” the Court said.

The Court made the observations while dismissing a plea challenging an order dated 27th July 2022, passed by the Additional District Judge in a civil suit.

The suit had sought a decree of permanent and mandatory injunction against the petitioner herein and other defendants in the suit, restraining them from interfering with the access to the suit property, creating third party interest in respect of the suit property or from restraining access to its rooftop.

The Senior Civil Judge, prima facie, upheld the right of the plaintiff (respondents herein) to access to terrace for the purpose of use of common amenities such as fixation of antenna, water connection, electricity connection etc.

In appeal, the ADJ modified the directions by requiring the petitioner herein to hand over one set of the keys, to the respondents, to the lock affixed on the gate at the fourth floor so that the respondents would have independent access to the terrace at all reasonable times during the pendency of the suit.

The High Court was of the view that the matter was not of a nature which justified invocation of the jurisdiction vested in it by Article 227 of the Constitution of India.

“This Court, in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, cannot substitute its subjective satisfaction or exercise its discretion subjectively in such a manner as to substitute the discretion and subjective satisfaction of the court below. Where the order under challenge is discretionary in nature, Article 227 can justify interference only where the exercise of discretion is perverse. By no stretch of imagination can it be said that the impugned order passed by the learned ADJ suffers from any perversity,” the Court said.

While upholding the impugned order, the Court clarified that the respondents, while availing of the facility, shall not abuse the same.

“It is made clear, therefore, that, if the respondents take undue advantage of the access to the terrace, granted by the learned ADJ by the impugned order, it shall be open to the petitioner to seek modification of the aforesaid direction by moving an appropriate application before the learned ADJ for that purpose,” the Court ordered.


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