Report No. 14
1. Area and population.-
Mysore was one of the two princely States that was retained as as a separate entity after the country attained Independence. During the short span of about nine years- between August 1947 and November 1956-the territory of the State has grown in area. Seven taluqs of the Bellary District were added to it in 1953. As a result of the reorganisation of States by Act (XXXVII of 1956), certain arts of the Bombay, Madras and erstwhile Hyderabad States and the entire State of Coorg were added to Mysore. The area of the reorganised State is 72,730 square miles with a population of 1,94,01,477 persons according to the 1951 census.
Scope of enquiry.- At the time of our visit to the State several distinct patterns of judicial administration obtained in that State. The areas transferred to Mysore from Bombay, Hyderabad and Madras continued to be administered in the same way as prior to the reorganisation of States. The subordinate judiciary had also not been integrated. Our attention was therefore focused mainly on the administration of justice in what was the old state of Mysore-and the subsequent observations unless otherwise stated apply only to that area.
2. Organisation of courts.-
The Subordinate Civil Judiciary of the State is composed of four cadres:-
(1) District Judges,
(2) Civil Judges,
(3) Subordinate Judges, and
3. Prior to the reorganisation of the State, the cadre strength of District Judges was eight including the posts of Registrar, High Court, Secretary to the Government, Law Department and that of Civil Judges, Subordinate Judges and Munsifs, eleven, fourteen and forty-two respectively.
No rules have been framed with regard to the number of posts of District Judges to be filled by direct recruitment and by promotion. Although at one time subordinate judges were recruited only by promotion, yet recently there appears to have been some direct recruitment at that level in spite of the opposition of the High Court. Posts of Civil Judges are filled by promotion of officers in the cadre of Subordinate Judges. We were also reliably informed that promotions were only on the basis of seniority and that the confidential reports on subordinate judicial officers were seldom considered. All this seems to call for a change.
5. Selection of munsifs.-
The manner of recruitment and the conditions of service of munsifs are found in the Mysore Munsifs (Recruitment and Promotion) Rules, 1954. Rule 11 of the said Rules states that a candidate "must be a graduate in arts or science or commerce and in Law-and must be an Advocate or Pleader who has practised in the Courts in the Mysore State for not less than four years immediately before the date of his application; or must be employed in the Judicial Department of the State, the total period of his service in that department together with the period of practice at the Bar, if any, being not less than five years immediately before the date of his application".
Rule 16 provides for reservation of not more than one out of every six appointments to be made to the service, for promotion of candidates from out of a list of qualified candidates to be prepared by the Public Service Commission from out of an eligibility list received from the High Court from among the Ministerial Service of the Judicial Department and Public Prosecutors and Government Pleaders. The maximum age limit for direct recruitment to this service is 35 years and for promotees 40 years. Rule 17 of the said Rules reads as under:?
"(17)(i)".-After examination, the Commission shall make a list of candidates who are eligible for being appointed as Munsifs for the remaining five appointments out of the six referred to in rule 16 above in the following manner:
(a) One out of these five appointments to be reserved for scheduled castes and tribes.
(b) The Commission will prepare a list for the remaining four appointments having regard to the representation of backward classes and the ranks of candidates as a result of the selection examination. In making the list of candidates of backward classes for appointments preference may be shown by the Commission to communities not adequately represented in Judicial Service."
Appointments are made by the Government from these two lists. Provision has also been made for the relaxation of the rules in the case of backward communities and scheduled castes and tribes.
6. Unsatisfactory methods.-
Severe criticism was directed against the method of recruitment to the judiciary that had obtained in the State prior to reorganisation. It was stated that the methods of selection to the subordinate judiciary were extremely unsatisfactory. We were told that as many as twenty five vacancies in the subordinate judiciary had remained unfilled by reason of differences of opinion between the Government and the High Court as to the method of selection and the persons to be appointed. It was also learnt that the High Court had declined to depute one of its judges to be associated with the Public Service Commission for the recruitment of Munsifs, and a retired judge of the High Court remunerated ad hoc was chosen to assist the Commission in selecting munsifs on one occasion.
We were also given an account of a selective examination held for appointing munsifs, and of the allotment of vacancies between the different communities on the basis of a quota system by which posts seem to be allotted to particular communities. About ninety-six per cent. of the population was stated to belong to classes for whom specified quotas were reserved. The method seemed to reduce the competitive examination to a mere method of selection on a communal basis. As the validity of this method of selection is said to have been challenged in an appeal pending in the Supreme Court, we refrain from making any comment on it.
The rules however clearly appear to need revision on the lines indicated by us to ensure selection of proper candidates and to avoid delays in filling vacancies.
7. At one time the District Judges of this State were placed in the same pay scale as the Deputy Commissioners (or Collectors) in charge of Revenue Districts.
The position is now different as the Deputy Commissioners are paid on the senior time scale of the Indian Administrative Service i.e., 800-1800, whereas the District Judges are still in the old scale of Rs. 900-50-1300. The matter needs to be set right so that the pay of the head of the district judicial administration is not less than that of his executive counterpart.
8. The High Court.-
Originally, the head of the judicial administration in Mysore was the Judicial Commissioner. Some time in 1881, the Judicial Commissioner was designated as the Chief Judge and his court the Chief Court of Mysore. About the year 1930 the Chief Court was given the designation of the High Court of Mysore. The territorial jurisdiction of the High Court has been extended to the areas which were added to the State from time to time.
9. The Chief Court exercised ordinary original civil jurisdiction till this jurisdiction was abolished in 1903. From 1908 to 1911 it also exercised ordinary original criminal jurisdiction. It is interesting to note that till 1st December, 1927, it was hearing appeals from the decisions of First Class Magistrates.
10. From 1884 to 1934 the Chief Court and later the High Court had three judges except during two short periods. On 2nd January, 1935, the number of the High Court Judges was permanently increased to four. On 15th February, 1940, two more judges were appointed. The maximum number was fixed at six judges but the actual number continued to be five till December, 1954. Thereafter, the number was reduced to two during the period 10th April, 1955 and 10th June, 1955.
Two more judges were appointed on 11th June, 1955. Thereafter three permanent and one additional judge were appointed in 1957. With the appointment of one permanent and one additional judge recently, the number of High Court judges now is nine. Considerable delays seem to have occurred in filling vacancies in the High Court due to differences of opinion between the Chief Justice and the State Government, with the unfortunate result that the number of pending suits has increased considerably.
11. The accompanying Tables (Nos. 1 and 2) show the institution and disposal of different category. of proceedings in the High Court and the number of different categories of proceedings pending in the Court on 1st January, 1957, according to the years of their institution (excluding those received by transfer as a result of the reorganisation of States).
12. Although the arrears in the High Court are not so heavy as in certain other courts, there is considerable room for improvement. The position has been aggravated by the fact that though a number of appeals were received by transfer from the other High Courts the strength of the judges was increased only much later.
13. Under section 15 of the Mysore High Court Act (1 of 1884) all appeals, civil and criminal, are required to be heard by a Bench of two judges, except second appeals arising out of any suit or proceeding, the amount or value of the subject-matter of which does not exceed Rs. 3000 which are required to be heard and disposed of by a Judge of the High Court sitting singly, unless he refers it to a Bench, being satisfied that it involves a substantial question of law. This section appears to restrict unduly the powers of a single judge and would appear to need alteration especially as District Judges are empowered to hear first appeals valued up to Rs. 10,000. A general enhancement of the powers of a single judge so as to bring them in line with those conferred upon him in neighbouring states will do much to achieve expedition.