A little-known circular issued by the Bombay high court promises to bring respite to senior citizens, who have been caught in the web of litigations. The HC has decided that preference should be given to cases where either of the parties involved in the court matter has attained the age of 60 years and above.
The circular was issued after the approval of the chief justice and judges of the Bombay HC. It is applicable to all benches of the HC as well as its subordinate courts. It also states that precedence to elders may be allowed only after a written application is made before the court. The new rule is applicable to court hearings as well as final disposal of cases.
A circular issued in 1999 had set the age limit at 65 years and above. But the recent circular is going to benefit more citizens as it has brought the age limit down to 60 years.
Advocate Vinod Sampat, president of Cooperative Societies Residents, Users and Welfare Association, said the clause could be beneficial in cases where residents were collectively fighting an issue. For example , if a cooperative society is moving the court on an issue, it would be wise to make a senior citizen the petitioner. This may help in getting the matter expedited in court, he said.
Though the circular was issued recently, not many lawyers are aware about it. Advocate Mihir Desai conceded that he did not know about the existence of such a circular. Nonetheless , it is a good move to reduce the age limit because most of the citizens also attain retirement at this age, Desai said.
But there are problems. The huge backlog of cases, vacancies in the judiciary and the need to attend to other cases of priority are some of the reasons because of which not all senior citizens can benefit from this rule, Desai said.
Advocate M P Vashi said: Once, during his stint with the Bombay HC, Justice R M Lodha commented that 70% to 80% cases involved senior citizens as parties. If this is the scenario, how can senior citizens expect to get preference in court matters He said courts should fix a particular date on which cases of senior citizens should be taken up without fail.