Report No. 79
III. Appeals against Judgments of City Civil Courts
We now address ourselves to the appeals that lie to the High Courts from the judgments of City Civil Courts. This topic was briefly dealt with in the Report of the High Courts Arrears Committee presided over by Mr. Justice Shah.1 The matter requires some discussion. From the following rapid survey, it would be evident that there are certain differences as regards the structure and composition of the various City Civil Courts, leading to differences regarding the forum of appeal against decision of the respective judges.
1. High Courts Arrears Committee Report, (1972), p. 66, Chapter 6, para. 66.
8.6. City Civil Courts and their jurisdiction.-
We have, at present, City Civil Courts functioning in five metropolitan cities Calcutta1, Bombay2, Madras3 Ahmedabad4 and Hyderabad5. The jurisdiction of the City Civil Courts at Ahmedabad and Hyderabad is, from the point of view of pecuniary limits, unlimited. The jurisdiction of the courts in the three presidency towns is limited to Rs. 50,000, suits of a higher value being within the exclusive competence of the respective High Courts which have ordinary original civil jurisdiction.6
1. City Civil Court Act, 1933 (Calcutta). 5 Bombay City Civil Court Act, 1948.
2. Bombay City Civil Court Act, 1948.
3. For statutory references relating to Madras, see para. 8.9, infra (footnotes).
4. Ahmedabad City Civil Court Act, 1961.
5. For statutory references relating to Hyderabad, see para. 8.9, infra.
6. Chapter 2, supra and Chapter 15, infra.
8.7. Structure and composition.-
More important is the difference in the position as regards structure and composition, including rank of the personnel, of the various City Civil Courts. In the City Civil Courts in Calcutta, Bombay and Ahmedabad, the presiding officers are of the rank of District Judges. In the City Civil Courts in Madras1 and Hyderabad2, some of the Presiding Officers are of the rank of District Judges3, and other officers are of a lower rank.
1. Principal Judge and Additional Judge in Madras.
2. Chief Judge and Additional Chief Judge in Hyderabad.
3. E.g., in Madras in Principal Judge belongs to the cadre of D.J. Grade I, and the Additional Judges belong toe the cadre of D.J. Grade II.
8.8. Jurisdiction of individual judges-original and appellate.-
Connected with this difference in the internal structure1 of the various City Civil Courts is the difference as regards the forum of appeal from their decisions.
(a) In the City Civil Courts in Calcutta, Bombay and Ahmedabad, the judges have concurrent original jurisdiction. But they have no appellate jurisdiction. Appeals from their decisions lie to the respective High Courts. The valuation of the subject matter makes no difference to the forum of appeal.
(b) In the City Civil Court at Madras, the various Presiding Officers-Principal Judge, Additional Judges and Assistant Judges-All exercise original jurisdiction2. But appeals lie3 to the Principal Judge from a decision of the Assistant Judge in any suit or proceeding where the value does not exceed Rs. 10,000. The Principal Judge may, from time to time, transfer for disposal such appeals to any Additional Judge.4
This affords a contrast to the position applicable to the City Civil Courts in the three cities of Calcutta, Bombay and Ahmedabad.
1. Para. 8.7, supra.
2. Section 4(1), Madras City Civil Court Act (Central Act 7 of 1892).
3. Section 15(2), Madras City Civil Court Act (Central Act 7 of 1892), as amended in 1957; and information obtained in F. 2(7)/77-L.C., Part II, SI. No. 17.
4. Section 15(4), Madras City Civil Court Act (Central Act 7 of 1892).
Similarly, in the City Civil Court, Hyderabad the Chief Judge and Additional Chief Judges have, under the relevant State law1, jurisdiction to hear and dispose of appeals against the decisions of the other judges of the court it certain cases; in other cases, the appeals lie to the High Court.
1. Andhra Pradesh (Telengana Area) Civil Courts Act, 1954, section 16(2).
8.10. Question of introducing uniformity regarding forum of appeal considered.-
The above resume will show that there are differences as regards the structure and composition of the various city civil courts, and as regards the appellate forum in respect of decisions of judges thereof. In fact, as already stated1 the differences regarding appellate forum are due to the differences in respect of structure and composition, including the rank of the Presiding Officers. We have considered the question of having a uniform pattern for city civil courts in all the metropolitan cities in the context of appeals which lie to the High Courts. There can be no doubt that each of the systems, the one in operation in Calcutta, Bombay and Ahmedabad and the other in Madras and Hyderabad, has its pros and cons.
To adopt a uniform pattern for all the five metropolitan cities, would necessarily have the effect not only of disturbing the status quo, but also of causing considerable dislocation either in the system in operation in two cities, or in that in force in the other three cities. The litigants and the members of the Bar in each of these cities have grown used to the existing systems and there has been no major demand for changing the pattern of the city civil courts in operation in these cities. Looking to all the facts, we are averse to recommending any change in the system of city civil courts functioning in the different metropolitan cities, or in the forum of appeal from their judgments. In case any change is called for, the same can well be effected by local legislation in the light of any particular difficulty which might have been encountered in the metropolis concerned.
1. Para. 8.8, supra.