December 30, 2023

Adjournment in legal proceedings is a pivotal aspect of the Indian judicial system. It refers to the suspension or postponement of a hearing or trial to a later date. This procedural tool allows parties involved in a case to prepare adequately, present their arguments, gather evidence, or address unforeseen circumstances that hinder the normal course of legal proceedings.

Adjournment: Meaning and Purpose

Adjournment, in essence, grants parties involved in a legal matter the opportunity to manage their case effectively. It allows them to gather pertinent information, consult with legal counsel, or handle emergencies that might impact their ability to participate fully in the proceedings. The primary objective of adjournment is to ensure fair and just proceedings by allowing all parties ample time and resources to present their case competently.

Adjournment Motion

An adjournment motion is a formal request made before a court or a legislative body seeking the postponement of ongoing proceedings. The grounds for requesting an adjournment can vary widely, ranging from the unavailability of a key witness or legal representative to the need for additional time to gather evidence or prepare arguments.

In legal contexts, an adjournment motion needs substantiation with valid reasons or substantial cause to warrant the delay. The decision to grant or deny an adjournment motion rests with the discretion of the presiding authority, usually a judge or a magistrate, who evaluates the merits of the request and the impact it might have on the case’s progress.

Adjournment in Civil Procedure Code (CPC)

The Civil Procedure Code (CPC) in India governs the procedural aspects of civil litigation. It outlines provisions related to adjournments, ensuring a balance between the interests of the parties involved and the expeditious disposal of cases.

Provisions Regarding Adjournment in CPC:

Section 151 CPC: This section grants inherent powers to courts to make orders necessary for the ends of justice or to prevent abuse of the court’s process. It allows courts to exercise discretionary power in granting adjournments to secure fair and just proceedings.

Order XVII Rule 1:  This rule within the CPC deals explicitly with adjournments. It states that the court has the authority to adjourn the hearing of a suit if sufficient cause is shown by either party or for its own reasons.

Order XVII Rule 3: This rule empowers the court to impose costs upon a party seeking an adjournment if the court deems the adjournment to be unnecessary or if the party fails to show sufficient cause for the delay.

Practice and Challenges with Adjournment in Indian Courts

While adjournments are essential to ensure fair proceedings, their frequent and unnecessary use can lead to delays in justice delivery. The misuse or abuse of adjournments often prolongs cases, adding to the backlog of pending matters in courts.

One of the significant challenges associated with adjournments is the balance between ensuring fair opportunities for both parties and expeditious disposal of cases. The discretionary power granted to courts sometimes leads to subjective decisions, which might not always align with the interests of justice.

Moreover, the financial implications of adjournments, especially when costs are imposed on parties seeking unnecessary delays, can significantly impact litigants. This aspect serves as a deterrent against frivolous requests for adjournments.


Adjournments play a crucial role in the Indian legal system, allowing parties to present their cases effectively. However, a fine balance between granting adjournments for legitimate reasons and preventing the abuse of this provision is essential for the efficient functioning of the judiciary. The provisions within the CPC empower courts to exercise discretion in granting adjournments while also imposing measures to curb unnecessary delays. The need for a fair and expeditious justice system necessitates a judicious approach to the use of adjournments, ensuring that they serve their intended purpose without unduly prolonging legal proceedings.

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