Citizens' Issues
PIL seeks to regulate repeated adjournments in court cases

According to the PIL, adjournments are used as a weapon by unscrupulous litigants to weaken their opponents and force compromises, or simply to evade the long arm of the law

Mumbai: Aggrieved by constant adjournments of cases in the judiciary, an activist has approached the Bombay High Court seeking regulation of repeated adjournments sought by lawyers, reports PTI.
Activist Anil Gidwani, who himself suffered due to several adjournments in litigations in which he is involved, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) stating that many times adjournments are used by unscrupulous litigants to force compromises, or simply to evade the long arm of the law.
Gidwani approached the court after making applications under the Right to Information (RTI) to the small causes court and the High Court seeking to know the details of compliance of 'Order XVII of the amended Civil Procedure Code (CPC), 2002,' but was denied the information.
The provision deals with adjournments for civil suits, and lays down that the court should record reasons for adjournment in writing and that no such adjournment should be granted more than three times to a party during the hearing of the suit.
"Adjournments are used as a weapon by unscrupulous litigants to weaken their opponents and force compromises, or simply to evade the long arm of the law," Gidwani contended.
He also pointed out that adjournments in some cases were also sought to financially weaken litigants, as they sometimes need to pay advocates even for days when hearings were not conducted.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar while hearing the petition on Thursday noted that inadequate number of judges was also a reason for cases dragging on for long.
The PIL has demanded that the civil courts in the state should adhere to the CPC, and the registrars of all courts should be directed to start maintaining details of adjournments, including reasons.
The case will be heard after two weeks.




5 years ago

Thank you, Anil Gidwani

High time to revise compensation to rail accident victims says HC

According to the High Court, under the Railways Act, the Centre could empower the Tribunal to award a fair, reasonable and just compensation analogous to the principles adopted by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal

Chennai: The Madras High Court has said it was 'high time' that the Centre revised compensation amount being paid to victims of railway accidents and held that the outer limit of Rs4 lakh permissible by the Railways Claims Tribunal (RCT) is 'quite inadequate', reports PTI.
Dismissing an appeal by the Railways challenging a RCT order, Justice P Devadass said under the Railways Act, the Centre could empower the RCT to award a fair, reasonable and just compensation analogous to the principles adopted by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and the Commissioner under the Workman Compensation Act.
On 24 August 2007, one Bakkiyaraj (24), travelling by the Chennai-Mangalore Express to Karur fell and died at an unscheduled halt at the Veeravakiyam station after the train allegedly started suddenly.
His parents Periyasamy and Lakshmi said as the train was crowded, their son was standing at the entrance of the compartment and had fallen after being hit on the head by the compartment door allegedly due to the abrupt manner in which the train started.
In April 2009, Chennai Bench of RCT held that the parents of the victim were entitled to maximum compensation of Rs four lakh, against which the Southern Railways gave an appeal.
Upholding the tribunal's order, the judge said an analysis of various sections of the Railway Act made it clear that if a bona fide passenger died or sustained injuries and irrespective of negligence or contributory negligence, the railways was liable to pay compensation to the victims or the dependants.
The Judge said that under the rules governing the railways, no matter what was the extent of pecuniary and non-pecuniary losses occasioned to the families of a deceased or victims of railway accidents, a maximum compensation of Rs4 lakh, fixed on 1 November 1997, was being paid.


Shocking: US hospital refuses to give widow her husband's heart

After eight years, the US hospital that performed Jerry Carswell's autopsy acknowledges it has his heart, but still won't give it to his wife

After more than eight years, Linda Carswell finally has proof: According to photographs submitted as evidence at a recent court hearing, her husband's heart sits in a locker in the morgue of St Joseph Medical Center in Houston, stored in two plastic tubs.

But the hospital still won't return it so that Carswell can bury it with his body.

ProPublica wrote in December about Carswell's battle for the heart, and for answers about her husband's unexpected death. Jerry Carswell, 61, went to a different Houston-area hospital for kidney stones in January 2004 and was found dead in his bed after receiving pain medication on the day he was supposed to be released.


The family's experience showed how problems with clinical autopsies - which are conducted on just 5 percent of patients who die in hospitals and rarely include toxicology tests - can thwart survivors' ability to determine what happened to their loved ones.


The pathologist at St. Joseph Medical Center who conducted Jerry Carswell's autopsy never determined a cause of death. Linda Carswell sued Christus St. Catherine Hospital, the facility that treated her husband, in Harris County District Court, losing a claim for negligence, but winning a $2 million award for fraud based on the handling of the autopsy. Christus St. Catherine is appealing the verdict.

An opinion issued in June by the Texas Supreme Court says a deceased person's next of kin is entitled to possess his body and bury it. That's standard practice nationwide, said Dr. Victor Weedn, a lawyer and pathologist who is professor and chair of the George Washington University department of forensic sciences.

Weedn said he doesn't see why the hospital couldn't give Jerry Carswell's heart back and warned that it could be incurring liability by keeping it.

Erin Lunceford, an attorney for St. Joseph, told ProPublica that the hospital realizes it could be sued for the organ, but is concerned that turning it over would violate a judge's order during the negligence case to preserve evidence.

The ongoing saga turned Carswell into an advocate for improved autopsy laws and other patient rights. She said her prolonged legal struggle illustrates obstacles encountered by those harmed in medical facilities - the type often cited by members of ProPublica's Patient Harm Facebook group. Patients and their loved ones can't get answers to basic questions, encounter roadblocks in obtaining medical records and are not treated with dignity, she said.


"They don't understand the human meaning of this at all," Carswell said.




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