'Arguments must be heard anew if judge is transferred midway'

'Arguments must be heard anew if judge is transferred midway'

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. Accordingly, the new judge pronounced judgement, dismissing the suit. The plaintiffs then moved the High Court, saying that the judge should have heard arguments anew. Division bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and A A Syed agreed with this view, holding that "the judgement can be pronounced only by the judge who has heard the oral arguments".

"Submission of written arguments cannot supplant the requirement of oral arguments," the High Court held in the ruling last month, directing that trial be conducted afresh.

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