Report No. 14
49. Madhya Pradesh
As a result of the recent reorganisation of States, far reaching territorial changes have taken place in the former State of Madhya Pradesh. The new State is composed of the former Madhya Bharat, (excluding the Sunel Enclave of Mandsaur District) Bhopal and Vindhya Pradesh States, together with 17 Hindi Districts of the former Madhya Pradesh called Mahakoshal and Sironj sub-division of Kotah district of Rajasthan. Nagpur, which was originally the capital of the old Madhya Pradesh State, together with other Marathi speaking Districts, called Vidarbha has been transferred to the Bombay State. The new State stretches from the Chambal in the North to the Godavari in the South and with an area of 1,71,300 square miles, it is the second largest State in the new map of India. The population of the State is 2,60,71,637. It now consists of 43 districts, which are grouped into 7 Administrative Divisions.
2. Transitional phase.-
The new State is passing through a transitional phase. It is faced with several complicated problems arising from the integration of various regions each of which prior to the reorganization was governed by distinct sets of laws administered by different States, one of which was a Part A State, another a Part B State and two Part C States. Different laws relating to the same matter were in operation in those regions. The new State has therefore to establish a uniform pattern of sound and efficient governmental machinery in the executive and judicial fields, enact a common set of laws applicable to the entire State, and integrate the services of the different regions. Considering the preexisting differences in the various administrative units, these problems are not easy to solve.
Even in the field of the administration of justice, there is considerable dissimilarity in the set-up of courts, their jurisdiction, the pay-scales of judicial officers, the extent of powers they can exercise and the laws they administer in different regions. When we visited the State in November 1957, we were told that a special officer had been appointed to work out a plan to expedite the process of integration in the judicial field which was expected to be completed within about a year's time.
On account of the changes in the composition of the State, our difficulties in attempting an appraisal of the judicial work in the State have been considerable. Much of the statistical information that we received pertained to the old State of Madhya Pradesh, all of which is now out of date and has little relevance to the changed condition in the new State. It has therefore not been possible for us to assess accurately the true picture of the position that now obtains in the new State.
3. Constitution of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh.-
Before the reorganization, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, then called the High Court of Nagpur was located at Nagpur. This court was established by Letters Patent in January 1936. Priority to that, there was a Court of the Judicial Commissioner in the Central Provinces established under the Central Provinces and Oudh Act XIV of 1865. After the coming into force of the Constitution, a High Court was established for Madhya Bharat and Courts of Judicial Commissioners were constituted for Bhopal and Vindhya Pradesh States.
With the emergence of the new State of Madhya Pradesh, the High Court of Madhya Bharat and the Courts of Judicial Commissioners for Bhopal and Vindhya Pradesh have been abolished and a new High Court, called the High Court of Madhya Pradesh, has been constituted for the entire State. As Nagpur has been transferred to Bombay State, the seat of the High Court is Jabalpur and that of the State Government Bhopal.
Before the reorganization, the former High Court of Nagpur had ten judges, including the Chief Justice. The Madhya Bharat High Court was composed of 6 judges including the Chief Justice. Bhopal and Vindhya Pradesh had one Judicial Commissioner each. The sanctioned strength of the new High Court is 15, 13 permanent judges and two temporary judges. But the actual strength of the court at present is 12 judges, two of whom have been appointed recently.
The new High Court, however, does not function as a single unit. While the principal seat of the Court is at Jabalpur, two temporary Benches have been established at Gwalior and Indore. These Benches are the survivals of the former Madhya Bharat High Court, which functioned in two divisions one at Indore and the other at Gwalior. Under a notification of the High Court, the earlier territorial jurisdiction of these Benches has been preserved, and in addition, the Indore Bench deals with the cases arising in the former territories of Bhopal while the Gwalior Bench deals with the cases arising in the Sironj Sub-Division of Kotah in the old State of Rajasthan The Court at Jabalpur deals with the cases arising in Mahakoshal and Vindhya Pradesh.
6. Seat of the High Court.-
The principal reason for the division of the High Court into three Benches appears to be largely political; and designed to satisfy the conflicting regional claims of the constituent units. The splitting up of the High Court has created numerous practical difficulties. It was pointed out that the distribution of judges between three different places caused considerable wastage of judge-power, which greatly affected the dispatch of the judicial business of the Court. All judges did not get a chance of sitting in Full Benches or of hearing important cases. While constituting a Full Bench, the Chief Justice is unable to utilise the services of the most suitable judges for the determination of the case in question as they are not all available at the same centre. Apart from these disadvantages, with the division of the Bar at three places, it has not been possible to have a strong Bar and a well-equipped library at each of these three places.
While the evidence given before us largely favoured the location of the High Court at one place, naturally enough divergent views were expressed with regard to the place where it should be located. It was urged by some that the High Court should be located at the capital, as in most States. It was also stated that considerable delays occurred in the disposal of writ matters to which the Government was a party, as the seat of the Government being at a different place, it took a great deal of time for the Government Pleaders to consult the administrative departments and file affidavits in the Court.
We have already expressed ourselves against the establishment and continuance of Benches. The location of the High Court is of secondary importance. What is vital is that theHigh Court should be located only in one place-and that centre should be speedily and finally determined. Delay in reaching a decision makes for uncertainty and serves to create and strengthen vested interests which will subsequently render the establishment of a unified High Court difficult.
7. Difficulties arising from interpretation of Article 36.-
Though no specific instances were brought to our notice, it was represented to us that petitions under Article 226 in which the Government of Madhya Pradesh was a party and which were transferred to the High Court of Bombay under the certificate of the Chief Justice of the present High Court of Madhya Pradesh under section 54 of the States Reorganization Act, were dismissed on the ground that the present Madhya Pradesh Government being outside its territorial jurisdiction, the Bombay High Court could not issue writs to the Madhya Pradesh Government.
The States Reorganization Act does not appear to provide any remedy for such matters, nor has the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh power under the Act to call back such cases and decide them according to law. This has occasioned considerable hardship. While it is now too late to devise measures to remedy it, this state of affairs emphasises the need for a clarification of the position with regard to the jurisdiction of the High Court, under Article 226 to which we have drawn attention earlier.