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Report No. 14

19. District Courts-Increase in number of judge necessary.-

The annual average out-turn of work per district and sessions judge and subordinate and assistant sessions judge during the same period based on the institutions and disposals is as shown in the Table set out below.

Table No. 6

Civil Suits Civil Miscellaneous cases and Petitions Civil Appeals Civil Miscellaneous Appeals Sessions Cases Criminal Appeals Criminal Revisions
Avg. available dis. Avg dis. Avg. pency. Avg. Available dis. Avg. dis. Avg. pency. Avg. Available dis. Avg. dis. Avg. pency. Avg. available dis. Avg. dis. Avg. pency. Avg. available dis. Avg. dis. Avg. pency Avg. available dis. Avg. dis. Avg.pency Avg.availanle dis. Avg. dis. Avg. pency.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

District Sessions Judges

14 4 5.6 65.4 27.8 22.2 112.4 42.6 43.1 24 11.6 9 93 39.4 21.2 222.4 155 68 60.4 41.2 17

Subordinate Judges and Assistant Sessions Judges

283.5 90.1 165 93 55.1 31.4 178.1 41.5 99.4 38 19.8 12 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..

Note.- (1) Six subordinate judges who were invested with powers of Assistant Sessions Judges disposed of 32.6 Sessions case on an average per year Judge.

(2) The figures shown in the column "Average disposals" do not include disposal by transfer, and this, perhaps, is the reason why the totals of the column "Average disposals" and "average pendency" of different classes of proceedings do not equal the figures shown in the columns " Average available for disposal".

20. Subordinate Judges' strength sufficient.-

From the foregoing analysis it is apparent that there is considerable congestion in the courts of session. The District and Sessions Judge cannot expect much relief in this matter from the existing number of subordinate judges as they will have to devote themselves almost wholly to their original civil work if their files are not to get out of control. An increase in the number of District and Sessions Judges is in our opinion necessary if the delays in Sessions trials are to be avoided and the arrears of civil appeals are to be cleared.

The existing number of subordinate judges should be able to dispose of the arrears within a reasonable time and also to keep pace with the institution of original suits besides disposing of a few sessions cases. With an increase in the number of district and sessions judges it ought not to be difficult not only to clear off the pending appeals in the subordinate courts but also to dispose of sessions cases with reasonable promptness. We, therefore, recommend an increase in the number of district and sessions judges.

21. Courts of Munsifs.-

A quantitative analysis of the work done by Munsifs during the triennial period 1954-56 is given below:

Table No. 7

No. of officers

Civil Suits

Institutions

Disposed of

Pending

1954

1955

1956

1954

1955

1956

1954

1955

1956

1954

1955

1956

Below one year

Over one year

Below one year

Over one year

Below one year

Over one year

16

16

16

9383

11844

9813

8275

9702

9983

4588

1562

4934

1330

4815

1196

Civil Miscellaneous Cases and Petitions

Institutions

Disposed of

Pending

1954

1955

1956

1954

1955

1956

1954

1955

1956

Below

Over

Below

Over

Below

Over

One year

One year

One year

One year

One year

One year

1873

2186

2022

1820

1899

1988

789

99

795

81

836

We also set out the pendency of suits in the courts of munsifs on 1st January, 1955, according to the year of institution, and the annual average out-turn of work of Munsifs

Table No. 8

Prior to

1949

19493

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

Total

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

28

42

30

115

290

1142

4503

6150

Table No. 9

Civil Suits

Average available for disposal

Average disposal

Average pendency

1

2

3

1013.1

502.5

507.6

Civil Miscellaneous Cases and Petitions

Average available for disposal

Average disposal

Average pendency

1

2

3

181.6

118.7

55.6

Increase in number necessary.- From these figures it is apparent that while the disposals have steadily increased since 1954 they have not been able to keep pace with institutions. Although the total pendency has increased, it is gratifying to note that the number of year old suits has progressively fallen and in spite of the number of munsifs having remained the same the position with regard to old suits has improved since 1954. But further improvement in disposals under existing conditions of work does not appear possible unless there is some increase in the number of munsifs.

22. Reasons for delay in disposal.-

The main reasons for the delay in the disposal of civil suits as appears from a perusal of inspection notes and order sheets are as follows:-

(1) Service of summons on the defendant normally takes a much longer time than it should, because of lack of control over the process serving agency. It seems that the process servers receive a very low salary. Travelling conditions in this State are also often difficult. Improvements in this matter could be brought about by strict supervision. However the evil can be radically cured only if adequate remuneration and travelling allowances are paid to the process servers.

(2) Adjournments are frequently granted without reasonable cause and many orders granting adjournments do not state the reasons therefor.

(3) Much time is taken by the parties to file their documentary evidence and summon witnesses. The rules in this regard are often completely ignored and frequent opportunities are given to file documentary evidence and for summoning of witnesses even after the framing of issues. Cases are adjourned a number of times for that purpose.

(4) The provisions relating to the issue of commissions are abused.

23. Inspection.-

Supervision of the work of the subordinate courts by regular inspection by the district judges is very rare. Some of the courts have not been inspected for three or four years. A system of regular and systematic inspections should be introduced.

24. Difficulties were also caused till recently by the fact that civil judicial officer- had to do executive work also. For example, in 1954 the Munsif, Shillong, was also the Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner and Law Assistant to the Legal Remembrancer. As Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner he had to look after the work in tribal areas.

25. Criminal Courts (Absence of witnesses) (Firm action not taken).-

Even at present the fact that the magistrates are called upon to do executive work adversely affects their judicial business and contributes considerably to the delay in disposal of cases. As regards the criminal cases we found that investigations were invariably delayed and that police officers failed to produce their witnesses on the dates of hearing. The police officers themselves did not respond to the summons for a number of times and the courts had to wait till it was convenient for the officers to attend. We are constrained to remark that the police themselves have contributed to a large extent to the delay in the disposal of criminal cases.

Magistrates were generally found very indulgent in dealing with the witnesses and even with accused persons who were absent on the date of hearing. No action was taken against them for deliberate default in appearance. Greater strictness in these matters by presiding officers is essential. Prior to the amendment of the Code cases occurred in which the accused claimed the privilege of de novo trial twice or even thrice by reason of frequent transfers of magistrates. Unbusinesslike posting and piecemeal hearing of cases are common. This is one of the worst features of the administration of criminal justice. The following is an illustration of the manner in which criminal cases are handled.

Case No. 863 of 1952 was first disposed of on.-9-1953 and resulted in conviction. On.-11-1954 the conviction was set aside and re-trial was ordered. The accused appeared on.-12-1954 and was enlarged on bail. On.-1-1955 all prosecution witnesses were absent. On.-2-1955 two prosecution witnesses were present and were examined. On.-3-1955 two more witnesses were examined and in April, 1955 the magistrate was transferred. On.-4-1955 all witnesses were absent and as the magistrate was under orders of transfer, the case was adjourned on.-6-1955.

On that date the witnesses did not tiortup and the trial was adjourned to.-7-1955 on which date one witness was present but was not examined as the magistrate was busy with administrative work. For the next three dates in succession the prosecution witnesses were absent. On 19-10-1955 no witness was present though served with summons. On 15-11-1955 prosecution closed their case after examining one more witness and the case was fixed for further cross examination on 27th December, 1955. On that date the magistrate was out of station. Such a state of affairs is capable of being remedies only by separating the judiciary from the executive and by strict supervision.



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