Report No. 127
3.2. If an evaluation were to be made of the importance of the role of different functionaries in the administration of justice, the top position necessarily has to be assigned to the trial court Judge. He is the key stone in the judicial are. However, he is the one who suffers the most. The facilities provided to the subordinate judiciary are abysmal. These courts function in old, ill-ventilated, ill-equipped and insanitary buildings.
Often there is no furniture worth the ,name and no room or even a rest room for witnesses who have come from long distance and have to cool their heels in the verandah (if there is one) or either be exposed to the heat of the summer or cold of the winter.1 To illustrate this point, till the year 1964, the court at Dabhoi in Vadodara District in Gujarat held sittings in civil jail and members of the Bar attached to the court met in the lunch hour in the open space and during the winter in the verandah of the civil jail.
1. K.E. Gopinath Court Rooms, KLT 61 (1978).
3.3. Most of the munsif courts in Rajasthan are functioning in rented buildings under constant threat of eviction or be subjected to rent suits. A rent suit is pending for eviction from the court premises of a court of munsif at Chirawa. The roof of the court has caved in as the landlord will not spend more than Rs. 12 per year on repairs, which is the actual rent paid monthly. Fifteen courts of Civil Judge, Junior Division, in the State of Gujarat, hold their sittings in rented premises wholly unsuitable for functioning of a court. More or less similar is the situation in other States.1
1. G.M. Lodha (Former Chief Justice of Rajasthan) Judiciary: Fumes, Flames and Fire, 322.
3.4. Apart from court buildings, the existing court buildings have no amenities. Sufficient number of cupboards or almirahs for keeping files and records are not provided. Files and records are lying scattered on the floor. Large number of courts of Judicial Magistrate do not have printed forms for issuing summons or receipt books for acknowledging deposit of fines. Since November 1961, the courts in Ahmedabad rural district headquarters are located in a building meant for leprosy hospital, far away from the nearest habitation. Small court rooms formerly meant for small causes court in the compound of Ahmedabad city civil court are now set apart for the use of the Judges of the city civil court.
They are very small in size, having a choking atmosphere. The courts in Alwar are housed in old stables of the erstwhile ruler. The courts at many places are being held in chambers where neither the litigants can stand nor lawyers can argue.1 In fact, cases have come to light where when an additional court is sanctioned, the existing court room is divided by a cotton curtain partition dividing one court room as a court room for two courts. Both the courts are disturbed by the noise emanating from each. As a crowning glory, on bifurcation of old Bombay State, the High Court for the newly carved out Gujarat State since May 1, 1960, was set up in a building constructed for children's hospital.
Twenty-eight years after the formation of Gujarat, the High Court still continues to hold its sittings in the same building. Gujarat High Court started with 5 Judges. Now they have 24 Judges. The congestion defies description. The response to the Law Commission's questions noire reveals that the percentage of courts functioning in rented building range from 17 to 24 in states which have furnished the information.2
1. G.M. Lodha (Former Chief Justice of Rajasthan) Judiciary: Fumes, Flames and Fire, 322.
2. See Appendix IV, Q. 8.
3.5. The Seventh and the Eighth Finance Commission both had successively recommended for alternation of larger outlay for construction now court buildings, expending court facilities and upgrading the facilities in the existing courts. The Eighth Finance Commission, analysing the information received by it from the State Government that 429 courts were located in rented buildings, was of the opinion, which was reflected in its recommendations, that all the 429 courts should be provided with pucca Government buildings and specifically allocated Rs. 17.40 crores under this sub-head at the rate of Rs. 4 lakhs per unit.
Simultaneously, it granted about Rs. 19 crores for structural alterations and provision of facilities to the public and staff in the existing courts.1 The situation has hardly improved by the time the Ninth Finance Commission is deliberating on the subject inasmuch as it transpired from the enquiries instituted by Law Commission about the progress of the implementation of the aforementioned award in twelve States. Twelve States replied to the queries of the Law Commission, four of which confessed that the award has not been implemented and the remainder made a perfunctory statement that the work is at a preliminary stage of progress.2
1. Report of the Eighth Finance Commission, 1984, 81.
2. See Appendix IV.
3.6. The Law Commission issued a comprehensive questionnaire for eliciting information relevant to various topics under discussion. The High Court of Uttar Pradesh in its detailed reply clearly indicated that there is an acute shortage of court rooms in the State courts. Of the existing sanctioned strength of the courts, 985 are regular courts while from the remaining, 427 courts are held in improvised court rooms, 65 in collectorates and 39 in rented buildings. Some of the buildings which are meant for regular courts, have, by passage of time, become too old and are in dilapidated condition. The improvised court rooms are very small and consequently affect adversely the smooth functioning of the courts, simultaneously inviting complaints from members of the Bar and litigants.
Where the courts are held in buildings meant for collectorates, the executive authorities are pressing for release of court rooms. Similarly, some of the owners of rented premises in which courts are held are requesting for release of the building in occupation of Judicial Department. The overall situation is pretty grim and it is estimated that over the next five years, about 500 court rooms are required.1 The Eighth Finance Commission has calculated that taken the requirements of all States together, 210 additional courts are required.
This figure has been arrived at by dividing the pendency in excess of one year's institution by the State's specific annual disposal per court or two States' average, whichever in higher.2 The report does not provide for additional courts in the State of Uttar Pradesh but that should not lead to the facile conclusion that no cases in subordinate courts in U.P. over one year are pending. Even though detailed memorandum was submitted to the Law Commission in response to its questionnaire, the High Court did not refer to the recommendations of the Eighth Finance Commission, even though admittedly 39 courts are functioning in rented buildings.
1. Memorandum submitted by the High Court of Uttar Pradesh.
2. Report of the Eighth Finance Commission, 1984, 81.
3.7. It is a truism that for an orderly functioning of a court with dignity and efficiency a standard building having proper court rooms is a sine qua non. There is an undying clamour for setting up additional Benches of Allahabad High Court. A Commission was set up by the Government of India to ascertain whether a Bench of the Allahabad High Court should be set up in Western U.P. Its terms were expanded to consider such requirement in other States. The Commission, while recommending extra Benches of certain High Courts, stressed that the Benches shall not be commissioned unless a functional building, equipped with all the modern amenities and suited to the dignity and prestige of the court, complete in all respect, is available for immediate occupation.
According to the Commission, the Bench should not be inaugurated unless and until adequate funds for properly stocking and equipping the Judges' library essential for efficient and smooth functioning of the Bench are allocated and sanctioned by the State Government. The report of the Commission on the need for a Bench of the Allahabad High Court in Western region of Uttar Pradesh sets out a detailed list of essentials which a High Court building must necessarily be equipped with in order to function efficiently. It suggested that the building should have at least 25 court rooms, 25 chambers for the Judges, 5 fire-proof rooms for the Judges' library, a conference hall of suitable size for the Judges, an administrative block consisting of office rooms for Additional or Joint Registrar, Deputy Registrar, Assistant Registrar, Section Officers, etc.
Sufficient number of large fire-proof record rooms must form an integral part of the building. In addition, the building must have accommodation for 3 Bar rooms, 2 rooms for the Bar library with an attached reading room and an adequate number of chambers for lawyers, 2 waiting halls for the litigants on the model of Delhi High Court, 25 garages for vehicles of Judges and other officers, 2 halls for petition writers, stamp vendors and typists, canteens for Judges, the lawyers and others, a dispensary, a post office, a bank, etc.
Apart from all this, there should be 25 bungalows for the residence of Judges and flats for the entire staff. There should be a guest house for the Chief Justice to stay whenever he may be required to go there. Apart from the necessity of having large complex of court building with future scope for expansion, it should be necessary to have enough land for the lawyers to set up their chambers or even residential accommodation because they are likely to shift to the seat of the proposed Bench.1
1. Jaswant Singh Commission Report on the Need for a Bench of Allahabad High Court in Western Region of Uttar Pradesh.
3.8. It is implicit in this suggestion that a similar plan for standard court facilities for the subordinate courts should also be worked out.
3.9. In India, the problem of having sufficient court rooms is of primary concern. However, whenever the construction of the court rooms is undertaken, it is essential to provide for a standard plan in respect of each level of court. It should not only have all the requisites proposed by the Commission hereinabove referred to but care should also be taken about adequate lighting, ventilation, power, acoustics, plumbing facilities, etc. All the court rooms should be built to accommodate the need for future increased volume of litigation.
These future expansion needs are being kept in view in most of the States1 It appears that while expansion in future is kept in view, the approach is confined to vacant space near existing court building not being allocated for any other purpose. That would disclose an inadequate approach but the whole aspect is based on allocation of adequate resources and in this behalf, one regrets to note that the existing allocated funds are not properly utilised.2
1. See Appendix IV, Q. 6(ii).
2. See Appendix IV, Q. 7.