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Report No. 14

11. Delays in Civil Proceedings

1. Delays in civil proceedings.-

This part of our Report is concerned with delays in the disposal of civil proceedings in India, the causes which occasion such delays at different stages of the litigation and remedies for reducing the delays. Laws' delays are not peculiar to our country. They have been and continue to be the subject of comment in the United Kingdom and the United States. Nor are these delays a recent development in our country. They have been the subject of previous inquiries by several committees to which we have made a reference earlier. Many of the matters dealt with by us were also examined by those Committees and we shall have occasion to refer to the results of their examination in appropriate places.

2. Volume of litigation; institution and disposals.-

Before considering the nature and the causes of the delays during the progress of a suit, it is necessary to ascertain the extent of the delays by a reference to some figures relating to the institution and disposal of original suits in the various States. We have, for the purpose of this analysis, chosen the year 1954 because it is the latest year for which administration reports were available for all the States. The figures of 1954 which we have given in the following Tables relate to the former Part A and Part B States. We have not been able to obtain relevant figures for Part C States.

3. During 1954, over one million and fifty-five thousand original suits including small cause suits were instituted in the civil courts excluding the village and panchayat courts and the High Courts on the original side. Including the arrears carried forward from the previous year, the total number of suits available for disposal by the courts in that year was over one million six hundred and fifty-nine thousand. During that year, the courts disposed of one million and forty-seven thousand suits leaving undecided more than six hundred thousand or thirty-six per cent. of the total suits available for disposal. The following Table gives an overall picture of these suits before the civil courts in the States mentioned.

Table Showing The Institution, Disposal and Pendency of Original Civil Suits (Excluding Suits Before The Village and Panchayat Courts and High Courts) In 1954.

Name of the State

Instituted during the year

Total No. of suits for disposal

Number of suits disposed of

No of suits pending at the close of the year

1

2

3

4

5

Andhra

74728

1,01,643

72892

28751

Assam

10873

17816

10090

7726

Bihar

153452

215942

154151

61791

Hyderabad

23905

35148

25053

10085

*Kerala (Travancore-Cochin)

23905

35148

25053

10085

Madhya Pradesh

52101

83470

52833

30637

Madras

74219

152093

76900

75193

*Mysore

N.A.

41541

29773

11768

Orissa

16390

28098

15579

12519

Punjab

21883

31711

22261

9450

Rajasthan

47866

70823

48618

22205

Saurashtra

18482

25612

18602

Uttar Pradesh

198738

309262

169353

139909

West Bengal

200439

271459

194998

764661

1055553

1659865

1047220

612635

*. For the official year 1954-55.

4. These figures which also include a large volume of small litigation decided by courts of small cause are not of material assistance in understanding the precise nature or extent of the delays nor of the difficulties of the courts or of the litigants. The position, however, becomes a little clearer from the following the number of pending cases into those pending for more than one year. The following Table gives these particulars.

Name of the State

Total No. of suits disposed of

No. of suits disposed of without contest

No. of suits disposed of after contest

No. of pending for over a year

Andhra

72892

58660

14232

6509

Assam

10090

8785

1305

2073

Bihar

154151

139076

15075

10983

Bombay

1,11,460

84325

27135

22964

Hyderabad

25053

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

Kerala

44657

23917

20740

22842

Madhya Pradesh

52833

37742

15091

5685

Madras

76900

58320

18580

46649

Mysore

29773

20915

8858

1131

Orissa

15579

12994

2591

4584

Punjab

22261

14082

8179

671

Rajasthan

48618

34780

13838

4869

Saurashtra

18602

10359

8063

1082

Uttar Pradesh

169353

135832

33518

41121

West Bengal

194998

180662

14336

17909

104720

820452

201541

190703

5. Proportion of delayed cases.-

The uncontested suits include those which were summarily dismissed under Order IX of the Civil Procedure Code or otherwise, suits decided ex parte or on admission of the claim and those compromised after the defendant had entered appearance.It will be seen that out of the total number of suits decided 25.58 pet cent. only were decided after full trial and the rest of the disposals amounting to over 70 per cent. were without contest. The average duration of cases decided without contested is generally less than one year. That would show that two-third of the suits are disposed of in less than one year after their institution and the cry of "law's delays" is, therefore, directed against the balance of One-third of the cases which remain pending fora year or more.

Arrears: What they are (Pendency of old suits).- Before considering the cause of delayed disposals, we must attempt to understand and define what should be regarded as unjustifiably delayed suits or arrears. Every case pending before a court cannot be put in the category of arrears. A case necessarily takes a certain amount of time in passing through its preliminary stages of the completion of pleadings, service of process, discovery and inspection, before it can reach a stage when it can be set down for hearing. We have in an earlier chapter indicated what should be regarded as normal time limits for the disposal of various types of civil proceedings.

We have come to the conclusion that having to the figures of average duration, the standard time for disposal of a suit in a munsif's court should be one year and in a subordinate Judge's court eighteen months. These standards are to some extent arbitrary but in the nature of things that cannot be avoided. the real arrears would, therefore, be those cases in the munsif's courts which have been pending for more than one year after institution and those in the subordinate judges' courts pending for one and a half to two years. Bearing this is mind, we may examine the extent of the delays from the following Table showing the pendency of original suits in the subordinate courts excluding small cause suits(in seven States) according to the year of institutions.

Table Showing The Institution, Disposal and Pendency of Original Civil Suits(Excluding Suits Before The Village and Panchayat Courts and High Courts) in 1954.

Name of the State and class of courts

1941 and earlies

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

1947

1948

1949

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

Total

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Andhra

District Judge Courts

1

..

1

2

1

1

1

5

2

13

25

56

87

194

Subodinate Judges Courts

..

..

2

1

6

7

15

22

25

66

233

432

852

1374

3036

District Munsifs Courts

2

..

5

5

11

16

24

55

86

173

297

694

3058

11288

15714

Assam

Munsifs' Courts

*28

42

30

115

290

1142

4503

6150

Subordinate Courts

*3

19

29

101

174

292

690

1308

District Courts

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

..

4

14

5

1

7

41

Bihar

Supreme Courts

**9

6

9

11

17

47

115

335

812

1454

3846

6661

Munsif's Courts

**3

6

11

14

65

68

726

463

1523

5739

46962

55130

Madras

District Judge Courts

1

1

..

6

2

7

18

51

95

181

Subordinate Judges Courts

4

4

1

12

14

26

31

48

85

184

348

622

1449

1826

4654

District Musifs' Courts

10

10

63

237

935

1721

1153

1684

1894

2800

4059

3244

16909

14317

49036

Orissa

Superior Courts

@7

1

4

7

7

7

31

67

211

405

1332

2079

Munsifs' Courts

@32

4

4

12

18

44

72

292

984

2375

6603

10440

Punjab

District Courts other than Chief

Courts of the District

1

2

1

3

11

12

16

32

34

63

270

446

Chief Courts of the District

1

1

1

..

..

..

2

2

7

West Bengal

District Judges Courts

@5

5

11

15

14

38

147

235

Additional Judges Courts

2

..

..

2

3

8

8

23

Subordinate Judges Courts

191

150

312

553

981

1777

2698

6642

Munsifs' Courts

657

255

388

863

2627

8502

41902

55194

*. Instituted prior to 1949.

**. Instituted prior to 1945.

@. Pending for over ten years.

@@. Instituted prior to 1949.

The above Statement relates only to seven Slates because reports from other States do not give similar particulars.



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