Peculiar Practice of Filing 'Minutes of Order' in Bombay HC: Supreme Court Lays Down Guidelines

Supreme Court addresses the 'Minutes of Order' practice in Bombay HC, stressing its significance and laying down guidelines. Advocates reminded of their duty to ensure legality before submission. Court asserts responsibility to assess lawfulness and parties' involvement.

The Bombay High Court has made a significant decision regarding the practice of filing 'Minutes of Order', a common procedure in its proceedings. In a recent case, Justices Abhay S. Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan emphasized the importance of this practice, noting that it serves as a courtesy to assist the Court by providing drafted orders from advocates representing the involved parties.

The Court highlighted several key observations:

  1. The practice of submitting 'Minutes of Order' is prevalent in the Bombay High Court, aiming to aid the Court by presenting draft orders for its consideration.
  2. Orders based on these minutes are not considered consent orders but rather orders made by the Court without mutual agreement.
  3. Advocates have a crucial responsibility to ensure the legality of proposed orders before submitting them to the Court.
  4. It is the Court's duty to evaluate the lawfulness of any order based on these minutes and determine if all relevant parties have been included in the proceedings.
  5. If the Court identifies that affected parties have not been included, it should postpone the order until they are properly involved.

In a specific case, Advocate Rajesh Vishnu Adrekar represented the appellants, while Advocate Karl Tamboli appeared for the respondents. The controversy arose when the Bombay High Court permitted the construction of a compound wall under police protection based on submitted 'Minutes of Order'. The appellants contested this decision, arguing that objections from government officers were disregarded, and affected parties were not included in the proceedings.

Despite objections, the Division Bench of the High Court upheld the order, leading to an appeal. However, the Supreme Court intervened, pointing out the procedural irregularities. While acknowledging the usefulness of 'Minutes of Order', the Court emphasized that the legality of resulting orders must be thoroughly assessed.

The Supreme Court concluded that the order made in this case was illegal and overturned it, remanding the matter back to the High Court. Additionally, it clarified that the construction would be subject to further review. The Court criticized the failure of the High Court to consider potential impacts on third parties affected by the construction.

Consequently, the Supreme Court partly allowed the appeal, bringing attention to the importance of proper legal procedures and considerations in court proceedings.