Order 17 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 talks about Adjournment. “The Court is Adjourned!”, is a fashionable phrase that a lot of people have often heard in movies, and it’s seen that after saying this phrase the judge stands and leaves the courtroom and calls it a day. So, it is clear that Adjournment means ending or postponing the proceedings of the court, but this impression is not completely correct. However, the reality is the court is not adjourned but the proceedings going on getting adjourned for the present suit which the court is hearing at that time, it simply means that the court will not hear that particular matter for that day but other case’s proceedings will keep going on. For example, Suppose the Court fixed the date for cross-examination of B. But, B doesn’t appear on the date fixed. So, in this situation, the court will either dismiss the witness’s testimony or adjourn the matter for the day.  

Also, Adjournment can cause inconvenience to many persons, like parties who are punctual and regular to a court or the witnesses might have to return unexamined. But still, the court has to give sufficient opportunity to other parties as well to present their case, and if later on the court found out that the other party deliberately and with malafide intention delayed the court’s proceeding then, in that case, the court can pass the order against such party as to cost to ensure no injustice is done. So. Adjournment is a part and parcel of the court proceedings and not a biased weapon and it is important to allow an impartial and fair trial. 


Court’s Power of Adjournment-

The court has both Statutory as well as Inherent Power to adjourn the hearing of the matters under certain and appropriate conditions. 

  • General Principles- 

In determining whether an adjournment should be granted, the court isn’t confined to applying the overall traditional view that regard is mere to be had to the interests of the litigants within the particular case, but should also take into consideration the effect of an adjournment in court resources. The competing claims of litigants in other cases awaiting a hearing in the particular list; the working of the listing system of the particular court and the importance in the proper working of that system of adherence to dates fixed for hearing.

  • Unavailability of Party or Witness- 

That the parties or the witness is unavailable will usually be a sufficient ground for an adjournment, provided such unavailability isn’t the fault of the party whose interests will be prejudiced by the refusal of the adjournment or of his or her solicitor.

  • Concurrent Civil Proceedings-

Whether the parties to civil litigation, who are facing criminal proceedings in reference to a similar matter, should be granted a stay or an adjournment depends upon the need to ensure that the standard procedures of the court don’t cause injustice to the parties to the litigation.

  • Apprehend Change in Legislation-

It is not proper to grant an adjournment due to an apprehended change in legislation, although such apprehended change has been announced by the relevant Minister.

  • Short Adjournments-

A Short Adjournment is, for instance, for a matter of hours or until the following day, should normally be allowed.

  • Judge’s Control of Trial- 

Often,  in cases without a jury, when an adjournment is sought on account of some procedural defect of the opposite side, for example, late service of amended particulars or additional medical reports, an adjournment can be avoided by preserving the rights of the party not in default, as the case proceeds, the adjournment often becomes unnecessary.

  • Consent Adjournment-

The fact that both parties consent to the adjournment isn’t decisive and doesn’t mean that it must be granted. It is for the court, not the parties, to make a decision whether the case should be adjourned.

  • Pretending Appeal in Other Legislation-

Generally speaking, a possible change in the law, whether judicial or legislative, is not treated as justification for failing to hear a case fixed and already for trial.


Adjournment on the Ground of Ill -Health- 

In Hayat V. General Medical Council [1], the High Court gave warning to all the Tribunals to consider and evaluate with great care any medical evidence they receive pertaining to an adjournment on grounds of ill-health. If an individual is declared unfit for work, it is likely that they will also be unfit to withstand the demands and rigor of a disciplinary hearing.

In the case, it was held that the Appellant did not receive a fair hearing. The tribunal’s decision was unjust due to a significant procedural irregularity, and thus the appeal was allowed and also the Appellant will have a re-hearing before a fresh panel.


Case Laws- 

  • Laxmi Rani V. Bharat [2]

This petition filed under Article 227 of Constitution is directed against the order whereby application of petitioner/ defendants filed under Order XVII Rule 1 of Civil Procedure Code was rejected by the Court.

Learned counsel for the petitioners submits that the order of the court is bad in law and the petitioners may be given another opportunity to lead evidence.

The impugned order shows that ample opportunities were granted to the petitioners to show the evidence. On payment of cost, the last chance was given to the petitioners. The court has given a specific finding that various opportunities were granted to the petitioner but they did not adduce by evidence. The application was rejected on the ground that the nature of ailment/sickness is not shown. No document is filled in support of the said application.

In the opinion of this court, the court has taken a plausible view. The order does not suffer from any jurisdictional error. There is no procedural impropriety or perversity within the order. Accordingly, a petition is dismissed.

  • Ram Lakhan V. Mannu Singh [3]

By filing this petition, the petitioner has challenged the order whereby the application under Order XVII Rule 1 of CPC is rejected. Petitioner filed the said application before the court with the request that he is unwell and has to proceed to Gwalior for proper treatment. The court declined the said request on the ground that the petitioner was given seven opportunities to lead evidence and the last opportunity was granted to him. Along with the application, no medical certificate is filled.

It was submitted that reasons shown for absence in earlier dates cannot be a ground to reject the subsequent prayer. He submits that a final opportunity could also be granted on which date the petitioner shall positively lead evidence.

In the opinion of the court, there is no legal infirmity in the order passed by the court and the court has assigned plausible reason for its conclusions. Even cost was imposed while granting last, opportunity to the petitioner, yet the petitioner did not avail the said opportunity. The document does not contain any data, it is not pregnant with any medical certificate. The document does not show the nature of the ailment and it contains two dates. The matter was fixed before the court and the said certificate is of no assistance to the petitioner. Yet in the interest of justice, I deem it proper to grant a final opportunity beyond which no further time shall be granted to the petitioner. Accordingly, without disturbing the order of the court, it is ordered that the petitioner be given a final opportunity to lead evidence by fixing a date. However, this can be done subject to payment of Rs. 1500/- by the petitioner to the plaintiff before leading evidence. The petitioner shall produce this order with an application and simultaneously shall pay the value aforesaid to the plaintiff. If it is complied with, the court shall fix a final date to lead evidence.

In the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, this court has passed the final order without hearing the other side. However, if the opposite side is aggrieved by this order, liberty is reserved to them to prefer an application for revival of the order. The plaintiff shall prefer an application along with a copy of this order and simultaneously pay Rs. 1500/- to the plaintiff. If the same is paid, the court shall provide a final opportunity to the petitioner to lead evidence. With the aforesaid, the petition stands disposed of.


[1] (2017) EWHC 1899(Admin).

[2] (2016) MP.

[3] (2013) MP HC.

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