Legal Blog: Loss of Law Suit Documents a Serious Matter: Bombay HC

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Loss of Law Suit Documents a Serious Matter: Bombay HC


The Bombay High Court has observed that it is necessary to conduct an inquiry before allowing re-construction of lost or untraceable law suit documents if issues disputing the application for reconstruction are raised by any party to the suit. 

The HC observed that loss of record of suit papers from the court premises was "undoubtedly a very serious matter" as mentioned by Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambata, especially since the rules require the administrative office to "permanently preserve" certain documents at the HC which is a court of record. 

Justice RM Sawant made this observation while passing orders in an application challenging the re-construction of a 1969 property suit. An MP government company had alleged that the re-construction was done at the behest of a law firm which was not authorized to represent the persons who had originally filed the suit that involves a high-stake property dispute. This contention was strongly opposed by lawyers for the other side. 

The judge who ordered an inquiry into the re-construction in the case at hand however also observed to avoid situations where disputes and challenges are raised later, "the office would have to devise some modality so that the record is maintained for posterity, and at least the decree/orders disposing of proceedings are maintained separately in a manner, beyond the scope of any wrong doing or mischief." 

The reconstruction of record of court documents is governed by a 1995 circular, which was issued precisely to cover situations of loss of record. "If there is a consensus between the parties the reconstruction would pose no problems, but if there is an issue between the parties on any ground, in my view, it is necessary to conduct an enquiry about the reasons by giving an opportunity to the parties to be heard and only then decide whether or not to order a reconstruction."

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