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Report No. 14

8. The following statement shows the state of work in the High Court since the year 1949:-

Statement Showing Details of The Proceedings Pending On 1st January, 1957 According To The Year Of Institution



1949

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

Remarks

No. of Judges

9

12+1

12

12

12

13

14

14

Judge appointment under Art. 224.

First Appeals against Decrees

I

400

490

574

497

439

552

726

D

361

216

287

297

300

262

285

401

P

1306

1580

1867

2067

2206

2496

2736

3088

Second Appeals against Decrees

I

2209

2272

1785

1376

1568

1881

2014

1502

D

434

309

323

293

445

359

359

421

P

426

591

692

804

846

914

973

987

Appeals against decisions of a single judge in Appellate jurisdiction

I

25

28

23

6

20

28

12

35

D

24

13

43

7

4

35

6

35

P

34

49

29

28

44+6

43

50

50

Special appeals

I-Institution
D-Disposal and
P-Pendency

Civil Revisions

I

955

919

859

863

1059

1135

1231

1198

D

925

864

878

697

805

1187

1173

961

P

343

398

379

545

799

747

805

1042

Writs

I

413

418

616

D

405

761

468

P

335

343

373

521

Criminal Appeals

I

630

616

544

578

743

582

536

654

D

564

325

660

481

625

487

622

503

P

161

452

330

427

545

640

554

705

Criminal Revisions

I

1642

1764

1321

1277

1597

1401

1374

1328

D

1734

1514

1293

1193

1306

1732

1499

1255

P

60

310

338

422

713

382

257

330

The congestion of work in the High Court is distressing. Disposals have failed to keep pace with institutions in nearly every branch of work. The number of pending proceedings particularly first and second appeals is staggering. A fair number of criminal appeals are over a year old appeals. The following statement, which indicates the year of the institution of the proceedings pending on 1st January, 1957 gives an idea of the magnitude of the problem.

Statement showing details of the proceedings pending on 1st January, 1957 According to the year of institution

Year

First appeals

Second appeals

Appeals against orders

Civil revisions

Miscellaneous judicial cases including writs

Criminal appeals

Criminal revisions

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

1944

..

...

..

..

..

..

..

1945

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

1946

1

..

..

..

..

..

..

1947

18

..

..

..

..

..

..

1948

155

1

..

1

..

..

..

1949

219

34

..

..

..

..

..

1950

257

127

2

2

..

..

..

1951

315

284

32

..

1

..

..

1952

301

803

99

4

10

..

..

1953

262

825

129

41

14

..

..

1954

419

943

162

110

33

24

6

1955

452

1085

229

330

150

170

23

1956

689

1087

334

554

533

511

301

Total

3088

5189

987

1042

741

705

330

When we visited Patna in November 1957, we were told that the High Court was then still dealing with First Appeals instituted in the year 1949 and Second Appeals instituted in 1952 and 1953. It is a matter of regret that this progressive accumulation of arrears should have been allowed to continue without any addition to the strength of the court particularly between 1950 and 1954. The highest disposal of First Appeals in any single year was in 1956, when 401 First Appeals were disposed of. Similarly the largest number of Second Appeals disposed of in any one year was 2,734 in 1949. Even if disposals are maintained at these figures, it would take the High Court over seven years to dispose of the First Appeals and nearly two years to dispose of the Second Appeals pending at the end of the year 1956.

We have not got the figures of average duration for the years 1955 and 1956, but the gravity of the problem can be appreciated from the fact, that in 1953 the average duration of a contested First Appeal was 2151 days i.e., about 6 years and in 1954 it was 1,877 days, i.e., about 5 years and 2 months. Even uncontested First Appeals take about three years for disposal. The average duration of Second Appeals in 1954 was 1,504 days i.e., a little over 4 years. The state of work in this High Court strikingly illustrates the fact that in our country greater delays occur at the appellate stage and particularly in the High Courts. The following Tables clearly bring this out:-

Year

Average duration in days of a contested suit in a Munsif's Court

Average duration in days of Civil Appeal in District Courts

Average duration in days of Second Appeal

Total time taken

1954

504

D. J. 658

1504

2666 = 7 years

S. J. 349

4 months.

2357 = 6 years

6 months.


Year

Average duration in days of a Contested Suit in Subordinate Judge's Court

Average duration in days of First Appeal

Total time taken

1954

763

1887

2640 = 7 years.

This sad state of affairs excited strong and naturally better comment. It appears to us that these delays are likely to persist notwithstanding the recent increase in the strength of the court as the increased number will be just enough to enable the court to keep pace with current institutions.

9. When we visited Patna, we were informed that at least 10 Additional Judges for a year or 5 Additional Judges for two years would be necessary to wipe out the accumulated arrears. This estimate was worked out on the basis that on an average, a Judge in Bihar is able to dispose of about 550 cases (Criminal and Civil) per year. The total number of cases pending at the end of 1956 was about 12,317. Of these, about 7,000 would be disposed of by the 14 permanent Judges; the balance of over 5,000 cases would need for their disposal about 10 Judges in one year or 5 Judges in 2 years.

It is possible that this might turn out to be an underestimate as over 3,000 first appeals are pending and of these nearly 2,000 must be over two years old. It is uncertain whether .a single judge or a Bench could dispose of 500 of these appeals which are all likely to be contested in a year. It cannot be said that the judges are not alive to the need for expedition. In fact we were told by some members of the Bar that the existence of a large volume of arrears in the High Court had greatly affected the psychology of Judges who tried to dispose of matters without giving a patient hearing to the advocates.

Recently, the High Court has amended the rules, to enable a single Judge to hear all Second Appeals, First Appeals against decrees upto Rs. 10,000 and against orders upto Rs. 20,000, and all civil revisions irrespective of the value. He is also empowered to hear criminal appeals in cases, in which the substantive sentence passed does not exceed 10 years and also writ petitions against the orders of the Panchayat Courts. This step should go a long way in economising judge power and expediting disposal. Although there was not much opposition at the Bar to the enhancement of the powers of a single judge, some senior members of the Bar expressed the view that such work was not unoften assigned to very junior judges and that Benches of junior judges were also common.

While there might undoubtedly be difficulty in view of the recent increase in the strength of the High Court in finding a sufficient number of senior judges for all the categories of work in which their services would be desirable, yet we feel that an effort should be made to entrust as far as possible all single judge work to a senior judge and to have at least one experienced judge in each Bench. Another measure which is bound to give immediate relief to the High Court is the enhancement of the appellate jurisdiction of the District Judge to Rs. 10,000 and the transfer of all appeals below that value pending in the High Court to the District Courts.

We understand that out of the 3,088 first appeals pending in the High Court about 2,000 are valued below Rs. 10,000. The transfer of these appeals to the District Courts should largely relieve the congestion in the High Court. It is necessary to emphasise that the cadre of District Judges must be strengthened for this purpose and additional District Judges appointed to dispose of the transferred appeals. An increase in the single judges jurisdiction to Rs. 15,000 might also have beneficial results.

10. Functions of Registrar.-

We have noticed earlier that the Registrar of this court is empowered to admit Second Appeals and have expressed ourselves against the continuance of this practice.



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