The Kerala High Court noticed that there have been many instances where the court records and documents have been missing and hence in light of these events the High Court has issued an ‘Office Memorandum’ laying down the procedure for the subordinate courts in case of missing records. The memorandum was laid down by the Kerala High Court in the case of V.Safarullah V. Gracy Josephine Lambie, OP (C) No. 1428 of 2020.
The brief facts of this case are that the Petitioners are willing to construct a building on a property that they own. The Petitioners approached the Bank for financial assistance and the Bank authorities have demanded the ‘Will’ made with respect to the property. The property originally belonged to one Andrew Rodger Lambie. By an unregistered will he bequeathed the property in favour of his wife that is the Respondent in this case. The Respondent filed for an order of protection before the court seeking letter of administration along with the Will. Later the Respondent sold this property to the Petitioner and now the property is vested with the Petitioner and his siblings. As the Petitioners approached the District Court to issue the ‘Will’, it was stated by the court that the ‘Will’ has been misplaced while in the custody of the court. Hence, in light of the numerous cases of records and documents being misplaced by the Courts an Office Memorandum was issued which laid down directions as follows –
- The judicial officer shall ensure that case records are properly maintained in their courts. Action should be taken if there is a lack of space to keep the files etc.
- The subordinate court shall promptly report the missing record to the HC and failure to do so would invite serious consequences.
- Before reporting such missing, a thorough search should be conducted and should not be done in a casual manner as there have been instances in the past whereby after an order was issued by HC to relook, the record was found. The judicial officers shall bear in mind that the missing records are to be necessarily traced out and reconstruction of those records shall be resorted to only as of the last resort
- When the records are irrecoverably lost then it must be reported to HC stating all the steps that were taken to find them and possibilities of reconstruction. The Courts shall secure the copies of such documents at the stage of reporting the matter to the High Court and to Inform the same so that they can proceed with the matter as and when instructions are received from the High Court
- The subordinate court shall include all necessary details of the missing documents and the case while reporting the matter to the High Court
- Disciplinary proceedings should take place against the delinquent employee in a time-bound manner and the conclusion should be sent to HC
- The judicial officer shall issue necessary directions to the employees to ensure that instances of missing records are not repeated.
Violation of any of the directions, the HC stated, would be taken seriously.
The High Court instructed the Subordinate Court to carry out the necessary instructions and pass appropriate orders in this case.