Written By- Pretika Tiwari
[Rajesh Chandran v. MR Gopalakrishnan Nair & Ors.]
The single judge bench of the Kerala High Court has observed that the negligence on the part of the lawyer is a sufficient reason to condone the delay in filing the petition, especially when the party in question is not guilty. The following observation by Justice CS Dias on a plea requesting to set aside the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) decision, dismissing the petitioner’s claim for non-prosecution under section 166 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. The petitioner’s subsequent requests to reinstate the claim petition and to excuse the application’s late submission were both denied by the MACT. Advocate VR Sreejith, on behalf of the petitioner, had submitted before the Court that the petitioner had entrusted the matter to a lawyer in faith that his case would be properly dealt with. It was contended that MCAT had not taken the necessary steps and casually dismissed the applications.
The Court observed that the petitioner was bedridden, and it was his counsel who should have taken the necessary action to prosecute the claim petition. The Court said in its judgement, “The Courts have been reminded that a party who, as per the present adversarial legal system, has selected his advocate, briefed him and paid his fees can remain supremely confident that his lawyer will look after his interest and such an innocent party who has done everything in his power and expected of him, should not suffer for the inaction, deliberate omission or misdemeanour of his counsel.”
The Court concluded that a lenient approach is to be given by giving the petitioner one more chance to contest the issue on merit in light of the benevolent nature of the statute that the claim is based upon and relevant precedents in the matter. Thus, the Court allowed the petition.