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Report No. 14

17. Civil Revisions

1. Revisional jurisdiction of the High Courts.-

The powers of the High Court to exercise revisional jurisdiction over the proceedings of subordinate civil courts arise principally under section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and section 25 of the Provincial Small Cause Court Act, 1887 or under corresponding provisions in the laws of the erstwhile Part B States. High Courts have also the power of superintendence over subordinate civil courts under Article 227 of the Constitution.

Under section 115 of the Code, the High Court has power to call for the record of any case decided by any subordinate civil court and in which no appeal lies thereto (to the High Court), and to revise the order if such subordinate court appears to have-

(a) exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or

(b) failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested, or

(c) acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity.

2. Revisions-A source of delay.-

As a large number of revision applications to the High Courts are stated to be without substance and filed principally for the purpose of delaying the conclusion of the litigation, the question arises whether the revisional jurisdiction should be continued.

3. Figures not informative.-

The figures of revision applications which are given in the annual reports on the administration of justice issued by the different High Courts show only the annual institutions, disposals and pendency. They do not give any information as to the nature of the applications, the law under which they are filed or the general result of their disposal. Nor do these figures make it possible for us to draw any inference as regards the time taken for their disposal. We have, however, been able to collect some informative data in respect of these proceedings for the years 1952 to 1954.

The Table set out below shows, among other things, the manner in which these revision applications under section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure and other provisions of law were disposed of in the year 1954 in most of the States. In the case of some States, we have not been able to obtain the figures of applications under section 115 of the Code and other provisions separately.

Table

State

Particulars of the Application

Pending at the beginning of the year

Instituted during the year

Total for disposal

Summarily dismissed

Confirmed

Reversed

Otherwise disposed of

Total disposal

Pending at the end of the year

Remarks

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Andhra

Under sec. 115, C.P.C.

891

370

1261

142

69

7

1

219

1042

Other civil revisions

467

223

690

48

50

11

3

112

578

Total

1358

593

1951

190

119

18

4

331

1620

Assam

Unde sec. 115, C.P.C.

10

52

62

15

14

14

2

45

17

Other civil revisions

6

23

29

3

9

3

..

15

14

Total

16

75

91

18

23

17

2

60

31

Bihar

Under sec. 115, C.P.C.

516

977

1493

546

293

152

29

1020

473

Other civil revisions

283

158

441

75

54

32

6

167

274

Total

799

1135

1934

621

347

184

35

1187

747

Bombay

Under sec. 115, C.P.C. Othe civil revisions Total

708

2078

2786

1245

317

145

4

1711

1075

Madhya Pradesh

Under sec. 115, revisions

344

623

967

351

173

79

28

631

336

Other civil revisions

187

359

546

148

97

49

28

322

224

Total

531

982

1513

499

270

128

56

953

560

Madras

Under sec. 115, C.P.C. Other civil revisions Total

31103

1802

4905

605

884*

219

118

3273**

1632

*Disposals after hearing **1447 transferred to Andhra High Court.

Mysore

Under sec. 115, C.P.C.

139

374

513

1

225

58

9

293

220

Other civil revisions

188

318

579

2

199

51

26

276

230

Total

327

692

1092

3

424

109

35

560

450

Orissa

Under sec. 115, C.P.C.

81

108

249

43

125

48

1

217

32

Other civil revisions

85

45

130

1

29

6

1

37

93

Total

166

213@

379

44

154

54

2

254

125

@ Includes 7 restored case

Punjab

Under sec. 115, C.P.C.

337

848

1185

...

...

...

...

840

345

Other civil revisions

Total

Uttar Pradesh

Under sec. 115, C.P.C.

2690

944

3634

279

432

55

65

831

2803

Other civil revisions

1926

726

2652

211

306

34

10

601

2051

Total

4616

1670

6286

490

738

89

115

1432

4854

West Bengal

Under sec. 115, C.P.C.

1978

2181

4163

...

...

...

...

2021

2122

Other civil Revisions

Total

Note.- The figures furnished in this Table have been taken from the reports the administration of justice published by the various High Courts.

4. Large number of petitions unsuccessful.-

The statement shows that over fifty per cent. of these applications are dismissed summarily by the High Courts and that the percentage of ultimate success is very low even out of those in which a rule nisi is issued. For instance, in Bihar, out of 1,020 applications under section 115 of the Code disposed of in 1954, 546 were dismissed summarily and out of the rest the rule was made absolute only in 152 applications. In Bombay, out of a total of 1,711 applications disposed of in the same year, as many as 1,245 applications were summarily dismissed and orders were reversed only in 145 applications.

In Madhya Pradesh, the total number of applications disposed of was 631 out of which 351 were summarily dismissed and the orders were reversed only in 79 applications. In Madras, excluding 1,447 applications transferred in that year to Andhra, 1,826 applications were disposed of, out of which 605 were summarily dismissed and the orders were reversed only in 219 applications.

5. Petitions from interlocutory orders (Stays and Delays).-

As already stated, the figures do not furnish any information as to the nature of these revision applications. But an examination of the decided cases shows that many are made against interlocutory orders passed by the subordinate courts in pending proceedings. Considerable delays arise in the disposal of the proceedings in the course of which these revisions against interlocutory orders are filed. When a rule nisi is issued, the proceeding in the lower court is generally stayed and its further progress is held up during the pendency of the petition in the High Court.

Further, whenever a rule is issued on such applications, the record of the case is generally called for from the subordinate courts so that, even when no order of stay has been made, the subordinate court cannot proceed in the absence of the record and, thus, there is, in effect, an automatic stay of proceedings. The delays which arise are graphically described by the Judicial Reforms Committee of West Bengal:1

1. Report p. 13.

"Suits tried in the mufassil are constantly stayed pending the disposal of revisional applications and appeals from interlocutory orders by this Court. It was said in jest recently that half the records of the Alipore Courts are permanently in the High Court. Many a true word is spoken in jest and unfortunately there is much truth in this remark. Orders made by the Courts at Alipore are constantly challenged during the progress of suits with the result that such suits are held up frequently for months and even longer until this Court has dealt with the matters in controversy."

We were informed of a case in which a stay was granted by the High Court in Calcutta in 1951 and in which for some reason the revision application was not disposed of till 1956. The proceedings in the court below were held up in the meanwhile.

6. Avoidance of automatic stays.-

We have been informed that a rule has recently been "framed by the Calcutta High Court which provides, that when upon the admission of an appeal the records of the subordinate court are called for, that court should send up not the original record but only copies of relevant papers compendiously called the "copy records" so that the lower court might be free to proceed with the case before it. It is said that the rule has had the effect of preventing to a large extent the interruption of the proceedings in the subordinate courts. It appears that similar rules have been made by some other High Courts also.

7. Though such rules may mitigate the evil of what has been called above an automatic stay of proceedings, there will still remain revision petitions in which stays are obtained. It has to be remembered, as stated by a senior Chief Justice that-

"in the great majority of cases, applications in revision against interlocutory orders are made by judgment-debtors and the whole object of such applications is to hold up the execution case as long as possible."

8. Extent of delays.-

The extent to which the original proceeding might be held up for an unconscionable length of time by resorting to the expedient of filing a revision petition will appear from the Table on next page showing the number of applications pending in the High Courts on the 1st of January 1957 according to the year of their institution.

Table

Name of the State

1945 and earlier

1946

1947

1948

1949

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

Total

Andhra Pradesh (A)

6

...

2

5

6

6

34

63

70

428

1374

1583

3577

Assam

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

7

25

32

Bihar(B)

...

...

..

1

...

...

...

4

41

110

330

554

1042

Kerala

*1

...

..

...

...

..

2

1

3

27

74

418

526

Madhya Pradesh

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

13

16

30

81

676

816

Madras

...

...

...

...

...

3

1

8

19

62

312

955

1360

Mysore(C)

...

...

...

...

...

...

1

1

8

96

300

630

1360

Orissa

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

...

9

63

159

232

Punjab

...

...

...

...

...

...

3

34

14

267

206

339

989

Rajasthan

...

...

...

...

...

2

8

23

99

182

246

376

936

Uttar Pradesh

2**

5

4

11

51

118

703

715

778

786

913

1222

5278

West Bengal

...

...

1

...

5

4

5

30

88

352

679

2503

3667

Note.-*. I of 1944.

**. I of 1944 and I of 1945

(A) The figures shown against this State Include the pendency received from the erstwhile High Court of Hyderabad.

(B)Includes the pendency in the Nagpur and Rajkot Benches.

(C) Does not include the receipts by transfer as a result of reorganisation of States.

The figures furnished in this Table have been supplied to us by the High Court. If one assumes that stay orders were made in about fifty per cent. of these applications, they reveal an alarming state of affairs when one remembers that finally about eighty per cent. of these applications are unsuccessful.

9. Proposal to curtail right of revision.-

Since a large number of these revision applications is filed against interlocutory orders, we invited opinion through our questionnaire on a proposal that the right of revision against interlocutory orders should be drastically curtailed and that revision should be restricted only to cases falling within clause (a) of section 115 of the Civil Procedure Code and not be permitted in cases falling under clauses (b) and (c) of that section.

Opposition to curtailment (Value of revisional jurisdiction.).- Although there was general agreement that many of these applications are lacking in substance and are filed with the sole object of delaying the proceedings, the proposal made by us met with general opposition. Dealing with the question of curtailment of the right of revision in respect of interlocutory orders, an experienced Chief Justice stated that "it is not unoften that a very wrong order is made. If it be made impossible to challenge the order immediately and have it set aside and if the error is left to be corrected in the appeal from the final order if and when such an appeal is taken, the intermediate proceedings will necessarily all be on an erroneous basis and it can hardly be just to compel the parties to submit to the order without any change of instant redress".

10. An alternative suggestion.-

It was alternatively proposed that in such cases, in lies of a revision to the High Court, the aggrieved party might be given a right of appeal to a lower appellate court in cases in which the orders made were such as would lead to the whole proceedings being conducted on an erroneous basis, or where the order was one which went to the root of the proceedings. This, however, appeared merely to substitute one type of proceeding for another leaving the right of revision to the High Court against the order in appeal still open to the party concerned.



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