Report No. 14
19. Inadequacy of judicial personnel in Uttar Pradesh.-
Very recently, the High Court of Allahabad has made a reference to the Government of Uttar Pradesh emphasising the need for a considerable increase in the strength of the judicial officers.
On the basis of statistics, the High Court found that in not less than sixteen districts there were more than one hundred sessions trials pending. Some of the courts had as many as two hundred to two hundred and twenty-seven sessions trials pending, and most of those cases were pending without a date for disposal having been fixed. The file in the courts was so heavy that there were many sessions trials including trials for offences punishable under sections 304, 395 or 387 in which no date for hearing could be fixed for at least a year. In several districts, over five hundred criminal appeals and revisions were pending, of which nearly half had been pending for more than a year. On account of the heavy sessions work, the disposal of criminal appeals was almost casual. Even criminal appeals were kept pending without a date being fixed for hearing.
The position with regard to civil suits in the courts of civil judges was equally deplorable. For instance, out of four hundred and twelve suits triable by a civil judge in Agra, ninety had been pending for three years and seventy-eight for four years; out of three hundred and seventy-five in Meerut, seventy had been pending for three years; out of one hundred and forty-one in Mathura, fifty-one had been pending for two years and twenty-eight for three years.
In many courts of civil judges and munsifs, there were so many regular suits ready for final hearing that dates could not be fixed for final disposal and some of them had to be adjourned sine die The cause list of some of the munsifs showed that no dates for final disposal could be fixed within the next three months; for instance, one thousand five hundred and sixty-nine suits in Meerut, eleven hundred in Mathura, one thousand three hundred and seventy in Ghaziabad and other places had been adjourned sine di.e. Of these, a large number of suits have been pending for three years and four years. 'The position with regard to civil appeals was no better.
The figures furnished by the High Court of Allahabad to the State Government afford ample support to the conclusions reached by the Judicial Reforms Committee of Uttar Pradesh as long back as 1952, that pending files of practically every judicial officer in that State was twice or thrice of what it used to be formerly.
The High Court has summed up the position as under:-
"The existing strength of judicial officers in a district is sufficient to cope with the institution in only nine to ten districts; all other districts require additional help so that the disposal should not be less than the institution. Institution of civil suits is decreasing, largely as the result of a change in the law on account of which suits which were previously instituted in civil courts are now instituted in revenue courts; consequently, the number of existing officers in more districts may suffice to cope with the institution in future.
If no regard is to be had to this decrease in the institution (which has just now begun to be felt), it seems that about three hundred and fifty officers would be required to cope with the institution as against the existing number of two hundred and sixty-five officers; in other words, about eighty-five officers more would be required to prevent the arrears increasing. With the expected decrease in the institution the number would be less, but some additional officers will be required in all other districts one officer or more would be required to clear off the arrears. No less than two hundred and seventy five officers would be required if the existing arrears were to be cleared off in one year; if they were to be cleared off in two years, the number of officers required would be one hundred and thirty seven.
The largest number of officers required is in the court of Munsifs because the heaviest arrears are in suits triable by a Munsif. Roughly about half the number of officers required to clear off the arrears should be Munsifs, the number of civil judges required would be about half that of Munsifs and the number of Civil and Sessions Judges, about one-third."
The High Court proceeds to state-
"The Court takes a very grave view of the delay with which cases are disposed of in civil courts and sessions courts. It reflects no credit on the administration of Justice that sessions trials (barring those for capital offences) take about a year and a half for disposal, civil suits take more than a year for disposal in the trial court, civil appeals are not disposed of for two and three years and criminal appeals also take a long time for disposal. The delay in the disposal of a suit and a civil appeal means that the aggrieved party is left without any redress for many years. In many cases it would be hardly worthwhile filing a suit in a civil court for redress.
If the administration of civil justice is not to be reduced to a farce, urgent measures are necessary to prevent the delay. The judicial officers are, as a rule, making the fullest use of their time and the Court does not think they can dispose of substantially more work. They are generally punctual in attendance and barring a few isolated cases they do full day's work every day. The accumulation of arrears is due mostly to inadequacy of officers of all grades and the Court would urge Government to take into immediate consideration the question of increasing the numbers of officers of all grades."
The Court further observed:
"There have been occasions when there has been considerable delay in the consideration of the proposal for filling up vacancies in the Lower Judicial Service and the Higher Judicial Service. Great delay has occurred in the past. For instance the Public Service Commission held examination for recruitment of officers in the Lower Judicial Service in January, 1956, but Government orders for their appointment were received in June 1957.
The Court proposed on 28th November, 1955, the filling up of vacancies in the Higher Judicial Service, Government sanctioned the number of officers to be recruited on 20th April, 1956, the Selection Committee sent the list of candidates to Government on 17th July, 1956, and it was not until on 27th April, 1957, that Government issued orders for their appointment and posting. The Court wrote on 14th May, 1957, for re-employment of retired District and Sessions Judges and Government's approval was received on 26th July, 1957."
20. Inadequacy of judicial personnel in West Bengal.-
Nor is this wanton neglect to maintain the judiciary at the requisite strength, a feature peculiar to the State of Uttar Pradesh.
The Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court in dealing with the aspect of inadequacy of judicial personnel has observed:-
"There is undoubtedly great congestion of work in the subordinate courts and particularly at Alipore. Only a very small part of that congestion might have been avoided, but the bulk of it was bound to occur and it will continue to persist so long as the numerical strength of the subordinate judiciary is not adequately increased. Very recently the High Court, after a careful consideration of the actual needs, recommended that the strength of the Higher Judicial Service, including the deputation posts comprised therein, should be raised from 36 to 62, but the State Government agreed to increase it by only 9 members. At Alipore particularly, the civil work of the Additional District Judges and Subordinate Judges holding the powers of Assistant Sessions Judges is continuously interrupted by their having to preside over Sessions trials."
The learned Chief Justice went on to observe that in view of the increasiQg pressure of judicial work, it has been found impossible to spare judges for inspection work. He further stated:-
"The cadre of each of the two Services 'The West Bengal Higher Judicial Service and, the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial)' includes a number of deputation posts which are posts outside the judicial line proper. The number of deputation reserve or posts in the Higher Judicial Service is 10, that of Subordinate Judges 9 and that of Munsifs 18. The necessity of supplying officers for these posts, which are not allowed to remain vacant, naturally reduces the number of officers available for judicial work in the courts.
If the full complement of Munsifs required for manning all the Munsifs courts had been provided and similarly the strength of the cadre of District and Additional District Judges as also of the Subordinate Judges maintained at the required strength, the system might have been worked without any difficulty being caused to the courts. As matters stand, however, till very recently, the numerical strength of the Munsifs was much less than the minimum required for officering all the courts, and when I came to office I found that as many as 13 courts of Munsifs had been lying vacant without any presiding officer for 8 or 9 years.
The position has since improved to a certain extent, but even at the present day, 6 courts of Munsifs are lying vacant, excluding the courts at Alipur Duars. What happens and has been happening for a long time is this. The posts of deputation reserve, included in the cadre of the Higher Judicial Service but outside the judicial-line proper, are kept continuously filled and the necessary personnel have to be supplied. But the higher posts in the judicial line, such as District and Additional District Judges, cannot also be kept vacant and, therefore, since the remainder of the permanent members of the Higher Judicial Service are not sufficient to fill all the posts, Subordinate Judges have to be promoted in order to make up the deficiency.
Of 34 confirmed Subordinate Judges, as many as 23 are now acting in the Higher Judicial Service. The promotion of so many Subordinate Judges for acting appointments in the Higher Judicial Service necessarily creates vacancies in the ranks of the Subordinate Judges and those have to be filled by promoting Munsifs. The drain thus caused on the body of Munsifs cannot be made good by promotion, because there is no lower rank of judicial officers from which promotions can be made and therefore some of the courts of Munsifs have to lie vacant The recruitment of judicial officers in this State lies entirely in the hands of the State Government.
On account of the Courts' insistent demands pressed on the State Government during the last few years, they have now recruited a fairly large number of Munsifs, although the full complement has not yet been reached. But the officers thus made available are still very junior officers, either officers of only a few years' experience, or probationers who have not yet completed their training. The accelerated promotion of a large number of Subordinate Judges which has been forced by the circumstances has been responsible for the depletion of officers of requisite standing, available for work either as Subordinate Judges or as Munsifs.
Munsifs of a few years' standing are now acting as Subordinate Judges; and for the 22 stations which require senior Munsifs with a higher pecuniary jurisdiction, it has been possible to provide only 16. As the whole pressure of deputations to reserve posts and promotions to the Higher Judicial Service or to the ranks of Subordinate Judges in the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial) has fallen on the ranks of Munsifs, the Court has been compelled by sheer necessity to withdraw probationers from their training and post them in courts for judicial work, so that as few courts may remain unprovided with presiding officers as possible.
Of the Munsifs recruited in 1955, none has completed his training, but all are sitting in court except one who has been reported to resume his training. Of the 15 recruited in 1956, 11 have had to be withdrawn to sit in Court after undergoing training for periods ranging between seven days and a little over five months and only four could be kept under training, one of whom again has had to be re-posted to sit in Court in a temporary leave vacancy. The choice before the Court was either to keep the courts of Munsifs vacant or to appoint probationers to preside over them. The Court has chosen the latter alternative as the lesser of the two evils, because to leave about 15 courts without any presiding officer would create a very serious situation.
"The State Government again, are frequently proposing that some member or members of the Judicial Service should be spared for some special post or duty. In the case of the members of the Higher Judicial Service occupying the rank of District Judges, they do not even require the concurrence of the Court. The manner in which requests for members of the Judicial Service are made for the purpose of their appointment in special posts outside the cadre tends to create the impression, which I hope is unfounded that the needs of the courts are regarded as only of a secondary importance and it is thought that they can be properly left to carry on with such officers as may remain to them after the needs of other departments, have been met."
In conclusion, he observed-
"The one measure which is called for more urgently than any other and which will enable the High Court to fill in vacancies in the subordinate courts is the increase of the cadre of both the Higher Judicial Service and the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial) to the requisite numerical strength, as recommended by the Court.
As matters stand now, a fairly large number of the courts of the lowest jurisdiction, viz, the courts of the Munsifs are still lying vacant and a fairly large number of courts of both Subordinate Judges and District Judges are, in the majority of cases, being held by persons promoted to those posts before they had acquired the requisite length of experience and, in certain cases, by persons whose qualifications might have been more adequate. The state of things cannot be remedies, unless the High Court is provided with the full complement of officers of such strength that not only can it keep all the posts filled, but it can also accord promotion to the higher posts only to persons who have acquired the requisite experience and have given evidence of the regulate qualifications.
The necessity of obtaining the consent of the Executive for the creation of Additional Judge-ships does not cause any appreciable delay in this State because, where there is congestion of work, it has not been found difficult to persuade the Executive that Additional Judgeships are required. But it is no use creating Additional Judgeships if no officers are available for filling them by. The real difficulty is shortage of personnel and the Court finds it useless to recommend the creation of Additional Judgeships, as it knows perfectly well that no officers can be found to preside over additional courts."
21. Grave Conditions.-
Our purpose in reproducing at very great length the observations made by the High Court of Allahabad and the Chief Justice of West Bengal is to point attention to this grave state of affairs in regard to the administration of justice which prevails in some of the States. In at least two of the States, the conditions reflect little credit on the State Governments and, particularly, on those in the Government in charge of judicial administration.
Under the Constitution administration of justice and the constitution and organisation of courts other than the High Courts are the responsibility of the State administration. The facts revealed indicate, on the one hand a gross neglect by the state administration of their duty in establishing the necessary number of courts and on the other, a complete failure on the part of the State to carry out its obligations to provide trained and proper judicial personnel for presiding over the courts.
The States is question cannot even urge financial stringency as an excuse, for the figures reveal that these States have been making substantial gains out of the revenue earned by them by way of Court-fees. It is a matter for serious consideration whether in order to prevent what appears to be virtually a breakdown in the system of judicial administration the Central Government should not, by an amendment of the Constitution, be given a greater measure of control over some aspects of judicial administration in the States. This suggestion is made on the basis that such control exercised by the Centre would tend to prevent such deplorable conditions arising.
22. Failure of State Governments.-
One should have thought that the problem of continually rising arrears could have been easily met by a quick and watchful awareness of the situation as it developed and the immediate creation of additional courts to deal with the increasing work. It is surprising that some of the State Governments should have failed to appreciate their responsibility in the matter, notwithstanding the repeated attempts by the High Courts and other authorities to make the State Governments alive to the true situation.
23. Powers to High Court to create additional courts.-
Having regard to the delays that inevitably occur on account of the Government taking a long time to examine in detail the proposals for the creation of additional courts, we would suggest that the High Courts may be generally empowered by the State Governments to create additional courts subject to certain limits whenever they consider that additional work justified the creation of a new court. As the High Court is responsible for the administration of justice in the State and is in a better position than the State Government to assess the need for additional courts to relieve congestion of work, it could well be trusted to exercise this power satisfactorily. This, in our view, will help in some measure to obviate the delays that occur in the State Governments sanctioning proposals for the creation of additional courts.
24.Close watch by superior judicial authority necessary.-
The High Courts and the district courts will have to keep a close watch on the files of the subordinate courts. It may be that in some cases a limit will have to be set on the number of cases that each presiding officer should normally be expected to dispose of. In fixing this limit, the nature of the work in different places and the conditions of work will have to be borne in mind. If it is found that officers presiding in some courts are overburdened with work, relief may be given to them by a judicious arrangement of the work which would relieve their burden and transfer their work to some other judicial officers.
But the increase in the files may indicate that a re-arrangement of work will not be a remedy and that what is needed is the establishment of mole courts. In such cases, it will be the duty of the district judge to apprise the High Court of the situation. The High Court would then take prompt action to establish more courts, if the power to do so were left to it, as we have suggested. In our view, it is essential to leave such powers in the hands of the High Courts to ensure the number of courts being kept at the required level and to prevent the files of courts being loaded with heavy arrears.
25. As stated earlier, with the data before us it is not possible for us to estimate with any accuracy the strength of judicial officers necessary in each State to cope with the current files and the old pending cases. These are matters which should be carefully examined by the respective High Courts.
26. We would, however, suggest that the following broad principles be borne in mind in determining questions of the adequacy of the strength of the subordinate judiciary:
(1) The strength of the subordinate judiciary should be sufficient to enable it to dispose of suits, criminal trials, appeals, revisions and other proceedings within the limits of time set out in paragraphs 5 and 6 supra.
(2) The High Court should immediately undertake a careful examination of the requirements of the judicial personnel of various classes in the light of the volume of work in the subordinate courts.
(3) The strength of the subordinate judiciary should be fixed so that it will be sufficient to dispose of the current institutions within the target time limits.
(4) The cadre strength of the judicial officers should be fixed after making due allowance for leave, promotion, deputation vacancies and also for the training of the judicial officers.
(5) Until the cadre strength is fixed inclusive of deputation requirements, the present strength of the cadre should not be depleted for making ex-cadre appointments.
(6) No court should be allowed to be without a presiding officer; there should be a reserve (included in the leave and deputation reserve) to meet unforeseen contingencies.
(7) The annual administration reports should specifically examine these features; such periodical examination would serve to keep the attention focused on the adequacy of judicial personnel, which is one of the basic requirements of the administration of justice.
(8) Temporary additional courts should be established wherever necessary to dispose of the accumulation of arrears. This should be done without any delay.
(9) The High Courts should be empowered, subject to certain limits, to create temporary additional courts wherever they consider it necessary, without reference to the State Governments.
(10) The High Courts and district judges should be careful to see that a subordinate court is not overburdened with work. Wherever the pendency of suits is very high, the district judge should redistribute the work or, in the alternative, ask for an additional hand to clear off the arrears.