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Report No. 14

17. The City Civil Court and the original side.-

The Madras City Civil Court was established in 1892 "with jurisdiction to receive, try and dispose of all suits and other proceedings of a civil nature not exceeding two thousand five hundred rupees in value and arising within the City of Madras except suits or proceedings which are cognisable (a) by the High Court as a Court of Admiralty or Vice Admiralty or as a court having testamentary, intestate or matrimonial jurisdiction or (b) by the court for the relief of insolvent debtors or (c) by the small cause court". (Section 3 of the Madras City Civil Court Act, 1892). The pecuniary jurisdiction of the City Civil Court has been progressively enlarged; by the Madras Act X of 1955 the Court was empowered to take cognizance of proceedings valued upto Rs. 50,000 with effect from 1st July, 1955.

18. The Table (No. 4) shows the institution, disposal and pendency of regular suits in the City Civil Court during the triennium 1954-56:-

Table No. 4

Year

No. of Officers

Pending at the beginning of the year

Institution

Disposed of

Pending

Average duration of suits disposed of after full trial

Below year

Above one Year

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

1954

4

2163

2125

2390

1196

852

613

1955

8

2048

2400

2685

1533

946

601

1956

8

2479

2232

2707

1359

802

N.A.

Note.- In 1955, 616 original suits were received by transfer from the High Court and 2400 original were actualy instituted in the City Civil Court.

Out of the total number of suits dealt with by four Judges in 1954 and by eight in 1955, 643 and 762 suits respectively were disposed of after full trial whereas a single judge of the High Court dealt with 438 suits in 1954 out of which 249 were disposed of after full trial and in 1955 one judge sitting throughout the year and another for four months disposed of 305 suits out of which 124 were after full trial. The average duration of original suits disposed of by the High Court in 1954 and in 1955 was 822 and 1863 days respectively.

According to the figures for 1954, four judges of the City Civil Court, who had no sessions or appellate work and had to deal with simpler suits and had shorter vacations disposed of 643 contested suits i.e., 160.75 per judge, whereas one High Court Judge disposed of 249 contested suits. It is true that the corresponding figures for 1954 are 95.25 and 93-but in 1955 out of the 1/3rd High Court Judges who worked on the original side-the time of one judge was almost wholly taken up by company, testamentary, insolvency and other matters. In 1954, there was a separate judge for these matters and chamber applications. Hence the apparent fall in disposals in the High Court in 1955.

The argument that cases take a longer time in the High Court based on average duration of cases has no weight, as the older cases are taken up in the High Court, in the absence of any temptation to show disposals and a low duration by taking up new and easier cases.

The figures would seem to indicate that work on the original side is more quickly disposed of. There can be no doubt that the original side needs to be strengthened. Putting one judge in charge of all the original side proceedings-including company and insolvency work as was done in 1956 (vide Table 4.) must inevitably lead to the piling up of arrears.

At least two judges would seem to be necessary on the original side throughout the year if the arrears are to be cleared.

19. According to the provisions contained in section 15 of the Madras Act (X of 1955) an appeal against a decision of the City Civil Court in any suit or proceeding where the amount or value of the subject-matter exceeds Rs. 5000 lies to the High Court. However appeals against the decisions of assistant judges of the City Civil Court in suits or other proceedings valued below Rs. 5000 lie to the Principal Judge. Although till recently all appeals from the City Civil Court lay to the High Court, now that the power to hear appeals from decisions of Assistant Judges (who are sub-judges) has been given to the principal judge (a District Judge) there is no reason why the value of such appeals should be limited to Rs. 5,000 and not raised to Rs. 10,000 as has since been done in the mofusil.

If the limit of the jurisdiction of this court is to remain at the present figure and not reduced as recommended elsewhere, it would become necessary to increase the number- of judges. Suits instituted in this court can be disposed of within the time-limit envisaged by us for the disposal of original suits in Subordinate courts only by the adoption of such a course. The fact that the City Civil Court is also the court of session for the city of Madras would also appear to warrant an increase in the number of judges.

20. Presidency Small Cause Court.-

The Presidency Small Cause Court functioned during the years 1954i-56 with five judges including the Chief Judge. The average institution of suits for the quinquennium ending with 1954 was 9149. The average duration of cases disposed of after full trial was 252 days in 1955 as against 190 in 1954. According to the statistics furnished by the High Court, 3612 suits were pending at the close of the year 1956 out of which 69 were over a year old. Although the judges particularly the Chief Judge have to do other classes of work also, greater expedition in the trial of suits seems to be possible. The time taken for disposal in the mofussil courts is less. Attempts must be made to reach the target time of ninety days for the disposal of small cause suits.

21. Position in District and Subordinate Judges' Courts.-

The number of suits of different valuations instituted in the Civil Courts other than the village courts is furnished in the following table (No. 5)

Table No. 5

Year

No. of suits of the value not exceeding Rs. 1000

No. of suits of the value of Rs. 1,000 and not exceeding Rs. 5,000

No. of suits of the value of Rs. 5,000 and not exceeding Rs. 1,000

No. of suits of the value of Rs. 10,000 and above

1

2

3

4

5

1954

52,352

5,106

760

608

1955

1,63,627

15,065

1,306

735

1956

86,456

11,523

1,139

522

It can fairly be estimated that out of the total number of suits about ten per cent. would be those cognisable by the district courts and subordinate judges' courts. Roughly about half of the ten per cent. would be suits triable under the ordinary procedure. Ordinarily district judges try only suits of a special nature. Mostly, proceedings under special enactments such as the Hindu Marriage Act, Patents and Designs Act, the Payment of Wages Act and the like come up for adjudication before these courts.

The subordinate judges who exercise unlimited original jurisdiction are also invested with powers to entertain proceedings under certain special enactments such as the Guardians and Wards Act, the Indian Succession Act and the like. Further, these officers are constituted Employees Insurance Courts under the Employees Insurance Act. Approximately fifty per cent of the proceedings brought to trial before the District Courts and Subordinate Judges' Courts relate to claims for immovable property and are disposed of after full trial. The following Table (No. 6) shows the number of original suits instituted, disposed of and pending in both these classes of courts during the three years preceding 1957.

Table No. 6

Civil Suits

Year

No. of Officers

Pending at the beginning Institution of the year

Institution

Disposal

Balance

District Judges

Below one year

Over One year

1954

17

204

136

132

101

80

1955

16

181

140

146

92

57

1956

15

149

144

132

99

146

Sub-Judges

1954

38

4940

2410

3037

1841

2813

1955

36

4654

2675

3426

1670

1838

1956

30

3508

1815

2200

1206

1101

22. The average duration of suits disposed of after full trial by the district courts in 1954 and in 1955 was 437 and 460 days respectively and that of suits disposed of by the subordinate judges' courts after full trial was 725 and 703 days. Although there has been a progressive fall both in the total number of pending suits and the number of year old suits, from the figures furnished above it would appear that there is still heavy congestion in the courts of subordinate judges. An increase in the number of subordinate judges for a limited period is necessary if the arrears are to be cleared within a reasonable period and the file brought under control. Thereafter it ought not to be difficult for the existing number of officers to cope with the work unless there is a large increase in the institutions.



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