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Report No. 14

4. Pendency.-

The accompanying tables (Nos. 1 and 2) show at a glance the state of the file and the details of proceedings pending on 1st January, 1957 according to the year of institution. Table No, 3 shows the number of certain classes of proceedings received by transfer from Madras (excluding those that awaited admission before transfer) classified according to the years of their institution in the High Court, Madras.

Table No. 3

Nature of Proceeding

1948

1949

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

First Appeals

1

1

6

2

37

68

81

62

42

Second Appeals

..

..

1

6

19

10

158

204

161

Writs

..

..

..

..

1

3

18

4

3

Letters Patent Appeals

..

..

..

..

1

3

18

4

3

5. A perusal of these Tables would show that the work in the High Court is well under control and that the recent increase in the number of pending proceedings is due to the transfer of a number of old cases from the Madras High Court.

6. It was thought at one time that the recent enhancement of the civil appellate jurisdiction of district judges to Rs. 7,500 would result in a fall in the number of first appeals to the High Court and enable the court to clear off the arrears. However, the Kerala High Court has, in a recent case,' decided that the amendment does not apply to suits instituted before the Kerala Civil Courts Act was enacted, i.e., 1957. On this interpretation, as the High Court itself stated in delivering judgment, the provisions raising the appellate jurisdiction of the district judge will remain "a dead letter for some years to come". We would suggest that the law be amended so as to enable all appeals in suits below the value of Rs. 7,500 to be heard by the district judge irrespective of the date on which they were instituted.

7. Enhancement of the powers of a single judge.-

It appears to us that the powers of a Judge of the High Court sitting singly should be enlarged so as to enable him to dispose of all second appeals irrespective of valuation. Under sub­section (4)(C) of section 20 of the Travancore-Cochin High Court Act (V of 1125) the power extends only to "every appeal valued at one thousand rupees or less from an appellate decree and every appeal from an appellate order where the subject-matter of the original suit is valued at one thousand rupees or less".

8. Similarly the proviso to clause (iv) of sub-section (4)A of section 20 of the High Court Act provides:

"that a single Judge shall not have the power to dispose of an application to implead the representative of a deceased appellant or respondent, if it is opposed, in which case the application shall be heard and decided by the Bench competent to hear the case"

9. These restrictions are surprising as a District Judge in Kerala has jurisdiction to hear appeals up to Rs. 7,500 and a single judge of the High Court can and does dispose of petitions under Article 226, which involve complicated questions of law.

In our view these restrictions should be removed and the powers of a single judge enhanced to that now obtaining in Madras. If this is done it will enable the court to clear off the old cases which have been transferred to it from Madras and bring its file up to date.

10. Second appellant jurisdiction.-

The jurisdiction of the Kerala High Court to entertain a second appeal is wider than that of other High Courts by reason of the Travancore-Cochin Act XVII of 1951 which inserted in sub­section 1 of section 100 C.P.C. the following clause:

"(d) The finding of the lower appellate Court on any question of fact material to the right decision of the case on the merits being in conflict with the finding of the Court of first instance on such question."

We were told that this provision had developed a tendency in the presiding officers of first appellate Courts to affirm the decisions of the trial Courts.



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