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Report No. 79

II. Pecuniary Limits of Appellate Jurisdiction of The District Judge

18.4. Present law.-

Coming more specifically to the pecuniary limits of the appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge, we may state that the limits of such jurisdiction vary from State to State.1 For example, the appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge in Gujarat. Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Rajasthan is Rs. 10.000. In Andhra Pradesh, it is Rs. 15.000, but asroposal to raise it further is stated to be under consideration. In Maharashtra1 according to the Bombay Civil Courts Act, 1869, the appellate limit has been raised to Rs. 25.000.

1. See Appendix 1.

2. For details of appellate jurisdiction of District Judge, see Appendix 1.

Position of Institution, Disposal and Pendency in Criminal and Civil Courts During 1976, 1977 and 1st Half Year of 1978

Institution

Disposal

Pendency as on

1-1-76 to 30-6-76 1-1-76 to 31-12-76 1-1-77 to 30-6-77 1-1-77 to 31-12-77 1-1-78 to 30-6-78 1-1-76 to 30-6-76 1-1-76 to 31-12-76 1-1-77 to 30-6-77 1-1-77 to 31-12-77 1-1-78 to 30-6-78 30-6-76 31-12-76 30-6-77 31-12-77 30-6-78

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Criminal
Sessions Courts
Original 31,267 62,920 36,791 92,763 53,258 25,769 53,955 34,899 89838 52,338 60,264 64,548 66,716 67,992 68,975
Revision 19,470 37,401 16,343 36,848 21,210 18,542 35,553 17,272 35,920 19,938 19,552 19,239 18,035 19,841 21,104
Appeals 33,878 79,853 34,750 71,990 34,082 30,377 64,436 34,960 71,741 32,996 38,035 42,098 41,620 42,103 43,184
Total 84,615 1,71,174 87,884 2,01,601 1,08,550 74,688 1,53,944 87,131 1,97,499 1,05,272 1,17,851 1,25,885 1,26,371 1,29,936 1,33,263
Magisterial Courts
Police challans 28,96,670 58,96,900 25,54,903 49,55,288 24,31,578 26,85,136 56,89,229 26,21,523 50,83,161 22,46,893 26,14,391 27,32,279 26,40,119 25,75,815 27,57,897
Complaint cases 13,18,638 27,00,166 11,61,536 23,56,947 11,19,001 12,53,847 25,05,190 11,64,839 22,97,253 11,11,522 16,09,226 17,39,866 17,08,739 17,78,975 17,86,328
Total 42,15,308 85,97,066 37,16,439 73,12,235 35,50,579 39,38,983 81,94,419 37,86,362 73,80,414 33,58,415 42,23,617 44,72,145 43,48,858 43,54,790 45,44,225
Civil
Original Side
Regular Suitss 4,53,004 9,26,851 4,57,592 9,76,634 4,79,245 41,2,604 9,12,121 4,36,800 9,23,747 4,31,700 13,40,807 13,17,821 13,37,966 13,70,071 14,17,002
Miscellaneous cases 5,86,352 12,89,583 5,75,068 12,92,314 5,95,007 5,42,399 12,48,594 5,63,683 12,73,021 5,74,945 7,19,263 7,18,225 7,31,906 7,39,915 12,14,196*
Total 10,39,356 22,16,439 10,32,660 22,68,948 10,74,252 9,55,003 21,60,715 10,00,483 21,96,768 10,06,645 20,60,070 20,36,046 20,69,872 21,09,986 26,31,198
Appellate Side
Regular appeals 61,596 1,27,051 63,574 1,36,901 66,284 54,980 1,22,071 62,312 1,32,922 64,140 1,37,710 1,34,659 1,36,363 1,39,086 1,41,156
Miscellaneous appeals 37,967 85,012 34,279 70,066 33,673 35,711 80,741 36,220 75,803 33,473 55,985 57,660 55,493 51,690 51,862
Total 99,563 2,12,063 97,853 2,06,967 99,957 90,691 2,02,812 98,532 2,08,725 97,613 1,93,695 1,92,319 1,91,856 190,782 1,93,018

*. This increase, in pendency is due to 454463 Karnataka Agriculturist Debt. Relief Act, cases which were not included previously.

18.5. Need for change in valuation.-

The regulation of appellate jurisdiction on the basis of valuation is sound in principle, but it has to be kept in mind that the amount for the purpose of jurisdiction has to be fixed according to the conditions as they prevail when the fixation is made; and such amount ought to be revised with theAhanging conditions. A

s far back as 1949, the High Court Arrears Committeel,1 set up by the Government under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice S.R. Das for enquiring and reporting, besides other matters, as to the advisability of curtailing the right of appeal and revision and the extent and method by which such curtailment should be effected, observed that 30 to 40 per cent. of the first appeals in the High Court arose out of suits valued at Rs. 10,000 or less, and that "considering the depreciation which has taken place in the value of money and the consequent rise in the market value of the property generally, there does not appear to be any cogent reason why the District Court should not be vested with jurisdiction to dispose of first appeals upto Rs. 10,000".

It may be mentioned that the jurisdiction of the District judge for purposes of civil appeals was Rs. 5,000 in most States when the above observations were made.

1. High Court Arrears Committee Report, (1949), quoted in 14th Report, Vol I.

18.6. In the Report of the High Courts Arrears Committee, presided over by Mr. Justice Shah, this aspect was again stressed.1 The Committee stated that disputes concerning transactions in immovable property and commodities that were then brought before the High Court by way of first appeals were such as did not reach the High Court in the earlier decades. The Committee also recommended Rs. 20,000 as the minimum for the appellate jurisdiction of the High Court.

1. High Court Arrears Committee Report, (1972), p. 63, para. 55.

18.7. Need to raise appellate jurisdiction of District Judges.-

The pecuniary appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge was fixed long ago in most of the States. Since then, there has been a considerable depreciation in the value of the rupee and we feel that it would be appropriate if the pecuniary appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge is raised. This would also have the effect of relieving the workload in the High Courts. No doubt it would give rise to a corresponding rise in the workload of the District Judge and this might, in its turn, entail the appointment of more persons as District Judges or Additional District Judges.

Despite this, we are of the view that the pecuniary appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge should be raised, because we find that the time normally taken for the disposal of an appeal in the court of District Judge is less than the time taken in the High Court and also because the cost involved in an appeal in the District Court is less than that in the High Court.

18.8. Whether uniform figure feasible.-

This takes us to the next question as to what should be the pecuniary jurisdiction of the District Judge, and whether we should have a uniform figure for the different areas in the country. We have given our thought to the matter and are of the view that it would not be desirable to fix a uniform figure for the entire country. The circumstances vary from Stale to State and place to place. The impact of the depreciation in the value of the rupee is also not felt to the same extent in different areas.

18.9. Recommendation.-

We have, therefore, refrained from suggesting a uniform figUre for the pecuniary appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge. All that we can point out1 is that the pecuniary appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge has been raised to Rs. 25,000 in one State and that in some other States it has been raised to Rs. 20,000. As already mentioned,2 it would depend on local conditions in each State as to what figure should be fixed for the purpose of appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge. Accordingly, we leave the matter to the authorities in each State. These remarks would also hold good so for as the question of enhancing the appellate jurisdiction of subordinate judges (by whatever nomenclature they are described) is concerned.

1. See Appendix 1.

2. See para. 18.8, supra.

18.10. Appeals of higher value to continue to be heard by High Courts.-

At the same time, we are averse to increase inordinately the pecuniary appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge. Appeals in cases of higher values in our opinion, should continue to be decided by the High Courts, because the High Courts, by and large, inspire greater confidence.



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