Report No. 253
(ii) Differing pecuniary jurisdictions within the same Court
2.3.1 There is a wide variance in the pecuniary jurisdiction of the High Courts having original civil jurisdiction. Whereas the Delhi High Court12 has a pecuniary jurisdiction of Rupees 20 Lakhs or more, the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Madras High Court13 and the Himachal Pradesh High Court14 is above Rupees 25 Lakhs and Rupees 10 Lakhs, respectively.
The Calcutta High Court's pecuniary jurisdiction has been increased from Rupees 10 Lakhs to Rupees One Crore, but it is concurrent with the jurisdiction of the City Civil Court.15 The Bombay High Court's pecuniary jurisdiction has also been enhanced from Rupees 50,000 to Rupees One Crore as a result of an amendment carried out in the year 2012.16 By specifying the value of Rupees One Crore or more for commercial disputes in a civil case, without recommending an increase in the pecuniary jurisdiction in the High Court, the Bill creates an incongruous situation.
12. Delhi High Court (Amendment) Act, 2003.
13. Tamil Nadu Civil Courts and Chennai City Civil Court (Amendment) Act, 2010.
14. Himachal Pradesh Courts (Amendment) Act, 2001.
15. West Bengal City Civil Court (Amendment) Act, 2013.
16. Bombay City Civil Court (Amendment) Act, 2012.
Since there is no provision for transferring the lower value cases out of the High Court, it leaves us with a situation where the same High Court dealing with the same kind of cases, applies two different procedures depending on whether they are above the "specified value" or not.
For instance, a commercial dispute pending in the Madras High Court with a specified value of say Rupees 99 Lakhs, will not be before the Commercial Division but a commercial dispute with identical facts and identical issues (and even possibly between same parties) having a value of Rupees One Crore, will automatically be placed before the Commercial Division.
2.3.2 To segregate the same kinds of cases within the High Court on the basis of their purported valuation alone is also unlikely to pass the test of non-discrimination under Article 14 of the Constitution, especially since one set of cases will follow a faster procedure than the others.
2.3.3 Furthermore, even if the Commercial Division takes up all commercial disputes, irrespective of their value, the system is unlikely to work due to the high pendency of cases. Vesting High Courts with the jurisdiction to hear all Commercial Disputes from across the State above Rupees One Crore, will add to their existing burden and only result in further delays in disposal of these cases by the High Courts.