Report No. 14
11. Powers of Single Judge.-
Under the High Court rules, a judge sitting singly can hear all Second Appeals, all appeals against orders and revision applications irrespective of value, criminal appeals except those in which a sentence of death or of transportation for life has been passed and all writ matters except that of habeas corpus. These powers are ample and are generally in line with the recommendations made by us in an earlier Chapter. In view of the large number of pending First Appeals and the enhancement of the appellate jurisdiction of the district judges to Rs. 10,000 a single judge may also be empowered to hear First Appeals below that value.
In the High Court, reserved judgments are not read out in open court. Instead, a rule has been framed to the effect that when a typed script of a judgment or order is prepared and is ready for signature, it is to be laid on the table of the Court Reader and can be inspected by parties and Counsel appearing in the case. The judgment is then signed at the close of the sitting of the court on the date following that on which the judgment or order is placed on the Reader's table. At any time before signature, a party to the case or its Counsel may appear and ask for the correction of clerical mistakes and omissions.
13. Set up of courts-Subordinate Courts-Mahakoshal.-
The constitution of subordinate courts is governed by different Acts in different regions. The existing set-up of the courts being the legacy of the old States is rather heterogeneous. Thus in the Mahakoshal area, there are three grades of courts, namely, the courts of District and Sessions Judges, Additional District and Sessions Judges and Civil Judges.
This is a peculiar feature of this State. It was introduced in 1956. Prior to that, as in most other States, the Courts below the Additional District Judges, were composed of two grades, Civil Judges Class II, with jurisdiction up to Rs. 5000 and Civil Judges Class I, with jurisdiction up to Rs. 10,000. Now Civil Judges exercise original jurisdiction up to Rs. 10,000 and are invested with small cause jurisdiction up to Rs. 500. Only the District and Additional District Judges exercise unlimited pecuniary jurisdiction. They have small cause jurisdiction up to Rs. 1000 and hear all appeals from civil judges i.e. up to Rs. 10,000, try sessions cases and hear criminal appeals.
Madhya Bharat, Bhopal and Vindhya Pradesh.- In the Madhya Bharat region, the subordinate judiciary is divided into District and Sessions Judges, Civil Judges First Class and Civil Judges Second Class. The Civil Judges Second Class correspond to the Munsifs in other States and exercise pecuniary jurisdiction up to Rs. 3000. Civil Judges Class I have jurisdiction up to Rs. 10,000 and District Judges have unlimited pecuniary jurisdiction. In the Bhopal and Vindhya Pradesh regions, there are Munsif-Magistrates, whose civil jurisdiction extends to Rs. 1000 and they try criminal cases as First Class Magistrates. Subordinate Judges have pecuniary jurisdiction ranging between Rs. 1000 to Rs. 10,000 and District and Additional District Judges exercise jurisdiction above Rs. 10,000.
It would be seen that there is considerable difference in the jurisdiction exercised by various courts in different regions of the State. In order to evolve a uniform set-up of courts, the Legislative Assembly has recently passed a new Act called the Madhya Pradesh Civil Courts Act, 1958 seeking to integrate the subordinate judiciary in the State. This legislation is awaiting the President's assent. Under this Act, it is proposed to establish, as in other States, four classes of courts, namely, the courts of the District Judge, the Additional District Judge, the Civil Judge Class I and the Civil Judge Class II.
The Civil Judge Class II will exercise original jurisdiction up to Rs. 2000 and small cause jurisdiction up to Rs. 200. The Civil Judge Class I, will exercise original jurisdiction up to Rs. 10,000 and small cause jurisdiction up to Rs. 500. The Additional District Judge and the District Judge will have unlimited pecuniary jurisdiction. The District Judge will have appellate jurisdiction upto Rs. 10,000. The existing civil judges will be classified into Civil Judges Class I and Class II.
Thus Munsifs in Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal and Civil Judges Class II, in Madhya Bharat will be deemed be Civil Judges Class II under the new Act, and Civil Judges of Mahakoshal area, Civil Judges Class I of Madhya Bharat and Subordinate Judges of Bhopal will be deemed to be Civil Judges Class I. The pattern of courts contemplated under this Act is generally in line with our recommendations, except for the pecuniary jurisdiction of Civil Judges Class I, which we think, should be unlimited. It would also appear to be desirable to empower the High Court to invest Civil Judges Class II with jurisdiction upto Rs. 5,000.
14. Judicial divisions.-
Prior to the reorganization, twenty two districts of the old State were divided into 11 judicial districts. After the reorganisation, the number of judicial districts has been increased to 20, 7 in the Mahakoshal region, 10 in the old Madhya Bharat, 2 in Vindhya Pradesh and one in Bhopal.
Before reorganization, the old State of Madhya Pradesh had a strength of 14 District Judges, 41 Additional District Judges and 95 Civil Judges. The strength of the Subordinate judiciary has, after the reorganization, been almost doubled. Thus in the new State, the strength of District and Sessions Judges is 23-10 in Mahakoshal, 10 in Madhya Bharat, 2 in Vindhya Pradesh and 1 in Bhopal. There are 58 Additional District and Sessions Judges among whom are included Civil Judges of old Madhya Pradesh and the Civil Judges of Madhya Bharat who exercise the powers of Additional District and Sessions Judges.
Of these 58 officers, 28 are for Mahakoshal region, 21 for Madhya Bharat, 7 for Vindhya Pradesh and 2 for Bhopal. The number of Civil Judges, Grade II, which includes Civil Judges Class I and II of Madhya Bharat and Subordinate Judges of Bhopal is 182, of whom 50 are allocated to Mahakoshal, 122 to Madhya Bharat and 10 to Bhopal. In addition to these officers, there are 30 Munsif-Magistrates in Vindhya Pradesh and 7 in Bhopal. This brings the total number of the judicial officers in the new State to 300 as against 150 in the old State.
In old Madhya Pradesh, the Subordinate Judicial Service was reorganised in 1955 when the new recruitment rules came into force. According to the new scheme, there were three distinct cadres of judicial officers namely, District Judges, Additional District Judges and Civil Judges. This corresponds to the present set-up of Subordinate Courts in Mahakoshal. This organization of the subordinate judiciary is somewhat different from that obtaining in the other States, where the subordinate judiciary is divided into two principal classes, the Higher Judicial Service consisting of District Judges and Additional District Judges and the Lower Subordinate Judiciary consisting of Subordinate Judges or Civil Judges Senior Division and Munsifs or Civil Judges Junior Division.
Recruitment to the posts of District Judges is made only by promotion of suitable Additional District Judges. The Additional District Judges are, however, recruited either by promotion of Civil Judges or by District recruitment from the Bar. The number of direct recruits, however, is not to exceed one-fourth of the total number of Additional District Judges. The requisite qualifications for direct recruitment are, seven years' practice at the Bar and age not above 40 years. The selection is made by the High Court Judges who interview the applicants.
The Civil Judges on the other hand, are selected by the Public Service Commission and the Governor is empowered to nominate a judge of the High Court to be associated with the Public Service Commission at the time of interviewing the candidates. We understand that at the last selection held in 1956, the Chief Justice himself sat with the Commission as a nominee of the High Court, when 24 candidates were selected out of 700 applicants for 16 vacancies. The requisite qualifications for recruitment as Civil Judges are, a degree in law with 3 years practice at the Bar and the age of 25 to 30 years. The rules provide for training being given for a period of one year to Additional District Judges recruited directly, but it is understood that such training was not in fact given.
Madhya Bharat.- In the old Madhya Bharat, the judicial service was composed of two cadres, namely, District and Sessions Judges and Civil Judges. The District and Sessions Judges were recruited either by direct recruitment from among the members of the Bar or by the promotion of Civil Judges. The Civil Judges were, however, recruited by a competitive examination with written papers followed by a viva voce test, conducted by the Public Service Commission. This mode of recruitment is not now in vogue because the Madhya Bharat Judicial Service Rules, 1951 are no longer operative.
17. Pay scales.-
There is a considerable disparity in the pay scales of the various grades of judicial officers in the different regions. Thus the District and Sessions Judges in the Mahakoshal and Vindhya Pradesh regions are in the pay scale of Rs. 800-50-1,000-60-1,300-50-1,800, which corresponds to the senior I.A.S. scale. In Madhya Bharat, the District and Sessions Judges are in the grade of Rs. 800-40-1,000-50-1,200; but some of them are in the selection grade of Rs. 1,250-501,500. In Bhopal, however, a District and Sessions Judge is in the scale of Rs. 500-30-590-EB-30-770-40-850, being perhaps the lowest in the country for this class of judicial officers.
Additional District and Sessions Judges in Mahakoshal are in the scale of Rs. 600-50-850. In the Madhya Bharat region they are in the scale of Rs. 250 to 750, plus special pay of Rs. 100 per month. In Vindhya Pradesh their scale is Rs. 500 to 750. In Bhopal they are in the same scale as that of District and Sessions Judges referred to above. The pay scale of Civil Judges in the Mahakoshal region is Rs. 250-250-25-400-EB-20-600-EB-25-750.
In the Madhya Bharat region they are in the same scale of pay as Additional District and Sessions Judges, but they do not get any special pay. The Munsif-Magistrates in Vindhya Pradesh are in the scale of Rs. 250 to 500 and in Bhopal they are in the scale of Rs. 200 to 375. Thus there are wide disparities in the pay scales of judicial officers. When we visited Jabalpur we were told that efforts were being made to integrate and reorganise the judicial service by harmonising the diverse pay scales.and fixing the seniority of judicial officers in unified cadres.
18. Work in Subordinate Courts.-
We have not been able to obtain information about the state of the files in the subordinate courts after the reorganization. Although we have some figures relating to the old Madhya Pradesh and also regarding the former Madhya Bharat region, it has not been possible to consolidate them so as to form a correct picture of the position in the new State as a whole.
We would however like to draw attention to the fact that in parts of what was Madhya Bharat there is an acute shortage of officers. We were told that in Ratlam for example, there was only one judge to cope with a file which required at least three officers and that in the District Court there were civil appeals over five years old and that representations to the authorities had no effect. We trust that this and similar situations will be speedily remedied.
From the earlier administration reports of the Nagpur High Court, it is evident that there was a downward trend in the institution of suits. Thus while in 1951 the total number of suits instituted in the Subordinate Courts was 53,856, the number had declined to 42,268 in 1955. This distinct fall in the institutions was attributed mainly to the functioning of the Nyaya Panchayats and the enactment of the Madhya Pradesh Abolition of Proprietary Rights Act, 1950. A large volume of the litigation was of small value, about 90 per cent. of the total proceeding being of a ,value below Rs. 1,000 and about 98 per cent. below Rs. 5,000.
In the course of evidence at Jabalpur and from the figures pertaining to earlier years, it became evident that the work in the Civil Courts of Old Madhya Pradesh was generally up to date. Thus in 1954; the average duration of a suit disposed of after full trial in the court of Civil Judge Grade II was only 336 days, as against 747 days in Kerala, 565 days in U.P., 559 days in Bombay, 561 days in Orissa and 504 days in Bihar. The average duration in Madhya Pradesh was the lowest in India during this year. In the Subordinate Courts there were not to be found heavy arrears as in the other States.
19. Effective supervision.-
An important reason for the state of the file in the old Madhya Pradesh Civil Courts being definitely better than in the other States was the strict and effective supervision exercised by the District Judges and the High Court over the subordinate courts. We were told that the District Judges took a great deal of personal interest in the problems of subordinate courts and established personal contacts with the judicial officers, discussed with them their difficulties and gave them guidance from time to time. The personal element plays a decisive part in making the work of supervision effective. We have dealt with this aspect of the matter and the methods adopted in old Madhya Pradesh in earlier chapters.
20. Distribution of Judicial business.-
A peculiar feature about Madhya Pradesh is that all suits in a judicial district are instituted in the District Court. The Courts of Civil Judges and the Additional District Judges have territorial jurisdiction throughout the District and the suits are transferred to them in accordance with the ,instructions of the District Judge who distributes the suits among them according to the seniority and experience of the judicial officer concerned.
This however does not mean that a litigant has to come all the way to the headquarters of the judicial district to file a suit, but he can do so in the nearest civil court, which receives it as the agent of the District Court and passes it on to the appropriate court for trial in accordance with the standing orders of the District Judge. In this way, distribution of the work in the entire judicial division is directly controlled by the District Judge, who is always in a position to assess the quantum of work pending before every presiding officer subordinate to him.