Report No. 44
5. The present position, therefore, as regards the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in civil matters is as follows:-
(1) There is an unrestricted right of appeal to the Supreme Court where the value of the subject-matter of the dispute is not less than Rs. 20,000 or where the order of the High Court involves directly or indirectly some claim or question respecting property of that amount or value
(a) if the judgment or the final order of the High Court is passed in exercise of its original jurisdiction (ordinary or extraordinary),
(b) if in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, the High Court reverses the judgment or order of the Court below.
(2) Where the appellate judgment of the High Court is one of affirmance, there must also be "some substantial question of law" involved.
(3) Where the High Court certifies that the case is fit for appeal to the Supreme Court, the pecuniary limit does not apply.
Judicial decisions have made it clear that the test for grant of a certificate of fitness under sub-clause (c) of clause (f) of Article 133 [corresponding to clause (c) of old section 109, Civil Procedure Code] is much more rigorous than the test of a "substantial question of law" required for a certificate to appeal against a judgment of affirmance under clause (2) of Article 1331.
1. See Mulla Civil Procedure Code, (1965), Vol. I, p. 467
6. In India, the conferment of a right of appeal to the highest tribunal based mainly on the value of the subject-matter in dispute has an historical origin. As early as 1726, when Mayors' Courts were functioning in the three Presidency-towns of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay, an appeal was provided to the King-in-Council in cases where the subject-matter of the litigation was worth more than 1000 pagodas. After the establishment of the Supreme Court of Calcutta by the Regulating Act of 1773, the Charter of the Supreme Court provided for an appeal to the King-in-Council where the subject-matter of the dispute exceeded the sum of one thousand pagodas.
In Bombay, however, the pecuniary limit for appeal to the King-in-Council was fixed at 3000 Bombay rupees. In the mofussil, where the corresponding High Courts for civil litigation were the Sadar Diwani Adalats, a pecuniary limit was fixed for the purpose of appeal to the King-in-Council, but it varied from place to place.
7. By an Order in Council dated 1838, uniformity was introduced, and an appeal to the King-in-Council was permitted only where the subject-matter in dispute was at least Rs. 10,000 company rupees in value. This minimum value continued the same after the constitution in 1861 of the High Courts (which replaced the old Supreme Courts and Sadar Diwani Adalats), and it was incorporated in the Civil Procedure Code of 1908 not withstanding the considerable fall in the purchasing power of the rupee since 1838. The makers of the Constitution maintained the principle of valuation, though they raised the amount to Rs. 20,000 and indicated that Parliament might raise it further to any extent by an ordinary law.
8. The main advantages of an unrestricted right of appeal to the highest court in the country may be said to be-
(1) It ensures uniformity in interpretation of the laws, thereby avoiding the confusion which would result where the High Courts in the States give conflicting decisions.
(2) Correct determination is more likely to be obtained in the highest court than in the lower courts.
(3) There is always a possibility of error, and there should be superior court to correct the error.