Report No. 127
Norms for Sanctioning Additional Courts
3.10. Every State has prescribed norms or guidelines for sanctioning new or additional courts. The power to sanction a new or additional court vests in the State. The proposal for the same emanates from the High Court in view of the constitutional provision contained in Article 235 which provides that the control over district courts and the courts subordinate thereto including the posting and promotion of persons belonging to the judicial service of the State vests in the High Court. All the posts up to and inclusive of the post of district judge belong to the judicial service of the State.
As setting up of new or additional courts to be manned by members belonging to the judicial service of the State entails financial liability, the power to sanction the same vests in the State Government, but this power is exercised effectively by the High Court who appreciates and understands the needs of the workload and the necessity of additional courts. Accordingly, the recommendation emanates from the High Court and ordinarily the State sanctions the same. To illustrate, the Gujarat High Court has prescribed workload for each of its subordinate and district courts.
An increase beyond 25% or the prescribed workload justifies a claim for a new court. Information, however, is not available as to how diligently these specifications are followed. Apart from the workload which is the primary criterion for setting up additional or new courts, there are other incidental factors which are also kept in view, such as convenience of litigants, availability of buildings for the courts, residential accommodation for staff, facilities for bar and library, distance from the headquarter, transport facility, school for the children of the staff, etc.1
1. See Appendix IV, Q. 6(iv).
3.11. Excessive workload on any given court completely disrupts the functioning of the court. Innumerable cases are fixed every day and the major time of the court is wasted in either granting adjournments or rearranging the cases with the result that very little effective work is done in trail courts on a given day. Manageable court dockets is a pre-requisite for smooth and efficient functioning of the courts. It appears that the guidelines or norms for setting up or sanctioning additional courts are not revised at regular intervals. They have become obsolete in some States with the result that sanctioning of the additional court takes too long time and if the additional court is sanctioned after a long delay, it becomes an exercise in futility because, by that time, a further sanctioning of an additional court has become necessary.
The analogy can be drawn from the fact that when sanctioned strength of the Judge undergoes upward revision but the newly created posts are not filled in within a reasonable time and when they are filled in after a long delay, the situation has undergone such a change that a further revision of the Judge strength has become overdue. This situation applies mutatis mutandis to the sanctioning of the additional courts. It is, therefore, absolutely indispensable that not the Government but the High Court in each State should prescribe norms and criteria for setting up of new courts and the same are meticulously followed. There should be no resistance in doing it under the usual pretext of constraint on financial resources.
Residence for the Judicial Officers
3.12. Providing a residential accommodation for judicial officers is of great importance. This has to be accorded high priority because of the speed with which process of urbanisation is taking place, there is an unbearable load on housing accommodation available for urban and metropolitan areas. Consequently, if governmental accommodation for residence of judicial officers is not provided, judicial officer has to rent the premises and the rents being prohibitive, a decent accommodation goes beyond their reach. Usually, a judicial officer is transferred regularly at an interval of three years. When he is posted to a new place, he hardly knows anyone. In order to secure some accommodation, he has to take assistance of local lawyers.
He is thus exposed to the double jeopardy of being brought under the insidious obligation of a landlord and a lawyer. This situation, apart from being deplorable, is liable to be abused1 The Seventh Finance Commission took note of this fact and observed that it is essential for the independence and fair image of the Judiciary that Judicial Officer should not be constrained to hire quarter from private persons as far as possible. Accordingly, in its recommendations, it sanctioned funds for constructing residential houses for Judicial Officers.2 With all this laudable object and the meager provision for the same, the position as it obtains today pertaining to the question of the residence of subordinate judicial officers is distressing.
1. G.M. Lodha Judiciary: Fumes, Flames and Fine, p. 106.
2. Report of the Seventh Finance Commission, 1978, p. 74.
3.13. According to the inquiry undertaken by the Eighth Finance Commission, out of a total strength of 7,238 Judicial Officers, 3,819 Judicial Officers, i.e., 52.76%, have been allotted Government accommodation. The Commission expressed its considered opinion that the minimum desirable level of housing accommodation for the Judicial Officers should be 80% and accordingly it granted Rs. 14.94 crores at the rate of Rs. 70,000 per unit for additional 2,107 residential quarters. A 30% extra has been provided for the hill States.1
1. Report of the Eighth Finance Commission, 1984, 81.
3.14. Having regard to the phenomenal rise in the cost of construction of a flat, a provision of Rs. 70,000 per unit irrespective of the place where the flat is to be constructed does not appear to be adequate. To illustrate, Law Commission has been furnished with information that when some quarters were built in the year 1987 in Himachal Pradesh, the cost of construction per unit was Rs. 2.60 lakhs and the accommodation was a modest one. It is, therefore, necessary for the Ninth Finance Commission which is at present functioning, while sanctioning grants for construction of quarters for Judicial Officers, to take into account a very important factor of high rise in cost of construction and grant adequate sums so that the desired objective may be achieved.
3.15. Law Commission, in its search for adequate information, was informed that while many states provide reasonably decent accommodation to most of the High Court Judges, Andhra Pradesh is one State where 65% of the High Court Judges were without Government accommodation. The situation generally as regards the subordinate judicial officers, to say the least, is depressing. In Bihar, 80% of the judicial officers are not provided residential accommodation; and even after utilising the grant made by the Eighth Finance Commission, 42% of the judicial officers would still be without residential accommodation.
The situation is equally bad in Andhra Pradesh where 58% of the judicial officers have not been provided residential accommodation and in Maharashtra 63% of the officers are without governmental accommodation. The information does not clarify the position whether the grant made by the Eighth Finance Commission has been taken into account while furnishing information. Assuming that it is not, then, even after the award, 36% of the officers would still be without governmental accommodation.1
1. See Appendix IV, Q. 9.
3.16. On the advent of the Constitution, ever proliferating activities of the State, a rapid process of urbanisation, a large scale migration of population coupled with awareness of rights, all have contributed to the tremendous increase in the workload of the judicial system. However, the system functions without much of a change, completely devoid of modern management techniques and technological advances, neither of which have kept pace with the increase in the workload. In concise terms, most courts need study, structural overhaul and reform.
3.17. The court system has evolved over a period of many years and the methods employed to deal with its problems have been piecemeal Statewise. There has been little systematic planning and development keeping in view the national perspective. Of course, the Law Commission has submitted two reports recommending restructuring of subordinate courts in all the States on identical lines as prelude to the setting up of Indian Judicial Service as an all-India service.1
1. LCI, 118th Report on Method of Appointment to Subordinate Courts/Subordinate Judiciary and 116th Report on. Formation of All India Judicial Service.