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Report No. 14

13. Calcutta City.-

We cannot but advert to the anomalous situation which divides the City of Calcutta into as it were three areas falling into three distinct jurisdictions. The High Court functions within the limits of its ordinary original civil jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of the City Civil Court would appear to extend also within the same limits. Outside these limits the city is on the one side covered by the District of 24 Parganas and on the other by the District of Howrah with their separate judicial set-up and. machinery. We are of the view that the question whether the whole city should not be under one cohesive judicial administration, like greater Bombay, needs consideration by the authorities concerned.

14. The Subordinate judiciary in the State is divided into two services-the West Bengal Higher Judicial Service and the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial). The District and Sessions Judges and Additional District and Sessions Judges are in the former service while the Subordinate Judges (most of whom work as Assistant Sessions Judges) and Munsifs are in the latter service. The cadre strength of the West Bengal Higher Judicial Service was originally fixed at 36 but was recently raised to 44 and that of the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial) was 170 before being raised to 185 in 1956 with the recruitment of 15 probationary Munsifs.

The recruitment to the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial) is by a competitive examination conducted by the State Public Service Commission. The candidates are required to have a degree in law and must be below 27 years of age. The applicants have to sit for a written examination in which law and allied subjects have preponderance. The candidates also have to appear for a viva voce test before the Commission. The High Court is represented, usually by the Registrar, Appellate Side, at the interviews held by the Public Service Commission.

There is no bar to members of the ministerial staff of the High Court and the subordinate courts appearing at the examination but the prescribed age limit stands in their way. There is no system of promotion to the posts of Munsifs from among members of the ministerial staff of any service; the cadre strength of the service is filled solely on the basis of the results of the competitive examination.

The posts in the West Bengal Higher Judicial Service were formerly filled entirely by promotion of members of the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial). It appears that recently some recruitment has been made directly from the Bar.

District and Sessions Judges and Additional District and Sessions Judges are in the time scale of Rs. 800-50-1,000-60-1,300-50-1,800 and Subordinate Judges in the time scale of Rs. 750-25-850. The latter class of officers are all promoted from the cadre of Munsifs, there being no provision for direct recruitment. Originally two posts were included in the selection grade-one of Rs. 1,000 and the other of Rs. 1,200, and only officers appointed before 1931 could be promoted to those selection grade posts. The selection grades which were discontinued for some time were revived in 1950 consequent upon the revision of pay scales and it was provided that three per cent. of the cadre strength of those posts should be included in the selection grade upto Rs. 1,000. Munsifs are in the scale of Rs. 250-700.

It has been stated by quite a number of witnesses including the judges that considerable difficulty is being experienced in the matter of selecting capable young men to the judicial service in view of the fact that the majority of intelligent young men seek other professions that are more lucrative. We have earlier referred to the opinion of a responsible person in regard to the standard of recent recruits to the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial). At this juncture it will be useful to compare the pay scales of the judicial and executive branches of the State Civil Service so as to have an idea whether the scales applicable to the members of the State Judicial Service are sufficiently attractive to bring in the best men.

The Deputy Magistrates and Deputy Collectors in the West Bengal Civil Service (Executive Branch) are in the pay scale of Rs. 250-25-850 (E.B. at the 10th and 18th stages) whereas Munsifs as already observed are in the scale of Rs. 250-700. The maximum age limit for entrants to the executive branch is 25 and the requisite qualification is only a degree, whereas an entrant to the judicial service must have a law degree in addition which means that a candidate will be able to enter the judicial service about two or three years later than a candidate could enter the executive service.

The members of the judicial service who take up their appointments at a later age have to be content not only with the same initial start at a higher age but as Munsifs their pay ends at Rs. 700. By the time these officers expect to be promoted as subordinate judges (which will usually happen after they have put in about sixteen years' service), an officer in the executive branch will generally have been promoted to a senior executive post. It is not surprising therefore that the better type of candidates do not enter the judicial service but prefer the executive service or other avenues of employment.

15. Inadequacy of officers.-

Several judicial officers and advocates commented on the great inadequacy of officers to preside over courts and expressed dissatisfaction at the posting of probationary munsifs to a large number of courts. An instance was given of a particular munsif being placed in charge of two Munsifs' Courts and in addition being invested with the powers of a First-class Magistrate with a direction to do magisterial work for two days in a week. It was stated that additional judges were posted only when the arrears went beyond control and not when the accumulation of work started. These criticisms appear to be well-founded for, according to the information made available to us, a number of Courts were kept vacant during the period 1955-56 and for three months in 1957 as will appear from the Table set out below (Table No. 11):-

Table No. 11

1955

1956

1957

Name of Courts

No. of days Vacant

From

To

No. of days Vacant

From

to

No. of days Vacant

From

To

Addl. Dist. Judge, 3rd Extra Court

..

..

..

304

04/02/56

04/12/56

..

..

..

Subordinate Judge, 3rd Court

..

..

..

11

19-7-56

29-7-56

..

..

..

Do 4th Court

17

14-5-55

30-5-55

5

19-4-56

234-56

..

..

..

Do 5th Court

11

02/09/55

07/09/55

10/10/55

14-10-55

8

17-4-56

24-4-56

Do. 6th Court

..

..

..

88

19-2-56

01/04/56

03/04/56

18-4-56

09/09/56

01/10/56

05/11/56

11/11/56

Do. 7th Court

19

17-4-55

06/05/55

..

..

..

40

18-2-57

29-3-57

Do. 8th Court

3

18-4-55

20-4-55

3

08/12/56

10/12/56

35

23-2-57

29-3-57

Do. 10th Court

..

..

..

2

04/12/56

05/12/56

23

06/03/57

29-3-57

Do. 1st Addl. Court

..

..

..

34

15-1-56

17-2-56

..

..

..

Total

50

455

98

1st Addl. Munsif, Alipore

..

..

..

6

24-4-56

29-4-56

..

..

..

1st Addl. Munsif, sealdah

..

..

..

7

26-5-56

01/06/56

..

..

..

2nd Munsif, Baraset

172

21-1-55

10/07/55

39

02/01/56

09/12/56

..

..

..

1st Munsif, Basirhat

379

02/12/54

15-12-55

9

09/12/56

16-12-56

..

..

..

2nd Munsif, Basirhat

20

04/05/55

22-5-55

..

..

..

..

..

..

3rd Munsif, Basirhat..

..

..

..

29

02/11/56

30-11-56

..

..

..

2nd Munsif, Baruipore

..

..

..

10

04/05/56

13-5-56

..

..

..

1st Munsif, Basirhat

12

19-6-55

30-6-55

..

..

..

..

..

..

2nd Munsif, Basirhat

6

12/07/55

17-7-55

9

18-8-56

26-8-56

..

..

..

3rd Munsif, Basirhat..

15

22-5-55

05/06/55

15

05/08/56

19-8-56

9

26-1-57

03/02/57

2nd Munsif, Baruipore

1st Munsif, D. Harbour

2nd Munsif, D. Harbour

3rd Munsif, D. Harbour

Total

During the period from.-11-56 to 29-357 i.e., the time of the present District Judge, 4 Asst. Session Judges' Courts were vacant for 110 days.



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