<b>XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, <i> Session II (Winter Session) </i> </b>
XIII LOK SABHA DEBATES, Session II (Winter Session) Monday, December 20, 1999/Agrahayana 29, 1921 (Saka )

Title: Discussion on the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 1999, moved by Shri Ram Jethmalani on the 16th December, 1999. (Contd.-concluded).

16.19 hrs.

MR. CHAIRMAN : The House shall now take up Item No.14. Shri Prabhunath Singh to continue.

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... (ɴvx)

THE MINISTER OF LAW, JUSTICE AND COMPANY AFFAIRS (SHRI RAM JETHMALANI): If you do not mind, I would remind you that this Bill deals with Civil Procedure. We are not discussing Criminal Procedure now.

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MR. CHAIRMAN : Shri Prabhu Nath Singh, you had taken nine minutes the other day. Kindly conclude. You have taken maximum time.

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uɮ Vɮ

SHRI T.M. SELVAGANPATHI (SALEM): Hon. Chairman, Sir, I am thankful to you for having given me this opportunity to speak on the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 1997.

Before I support this Bill, I would like to state that there are varying opinions with regard to the amendments which the Government seek to propose before this august House. Of course, there cannot be two opinions with regard to the law delays. Justice delayed is justice denied. This maximum is known to the legal luminaries like Shri Ram Jethmalani, and also known to the Hon. Chairman who is a senior advocate in the Madras High Court...(Interruptions)

MR. CHAIRMAN : Justice hurried is justice buried.

... (Interruptions)

SHRI T.M. SELVAGANPATHI : Justice must not only be done but justice must seem to be done. If I may be permitted to quote my own case, I would like to state that my father was subjected to a civil litigation in 1971 which is still pending and probably my grandson would come to complete the process. So, this is the situation now.

Sir, as per a Report, there are twenty million cases which are pending in various courts. Then, why is this piecemeal legislation brought forward? Of course, a prolonged deliberation must have gone into it. A Committee, which sat on this issue, had decided about all these amendments. The hon. Minister also accepted that this is not the only solution. There has to be a Conference on legislation in order to remove the manner of the law delays. If this is not the only solution, then what else is required? If the hon. Minister like Shri Ram Jethmalani cannot do it, nobody else can do it.

There are many legal experts in this country including our hon. Chairman who is a constitutional expert. There has been a continuous demand for a Judicial Commission. As the learned Member Shri Radhakrishnan has pointed out the other day, a number of vacancies exist. All these vacancies have to be filled up. But there are cases in various States where they hurry in filling up the vacancies. They hurry up in order to benefit the persons of their liking. They are doing it according to their whims and fancies. So, that also has to be taken into consideration.

My point is that instead of attempting a piecemeal legislation, we should try for increasing the number of courts. We should try to fill up all the vacant seats which exist in the courts. If the number of the courts is increased, if more courts are instituted, then the delay could be reduced to a large extent. Therefore, in this context, I would like to draw the attention of the hon. Minister to one thing. Having given me an opportunity to speak on this Bill, I would also like to seek for an establishment of a separate Supreme Court Bench in the Southern States and the Headquarters may be placed in Chennai. It would benefit about 25 crore people. This demand has been pending for an innumerable number of years. Decade after decade we have been raising this demand. Why should a person from Kanyakumari or why should a person from Sikkim come down to Delhi which is very costlier? To file a litigation, many litigants lose the opportunity where the decision-making court is established in Delhi, where the dispute involves a question of law. The Supreme Court deliberates in respect of many of these cases. Because of paucity of funds and because of the situation of a majority of this nation, it has happened all these years...(Interruptions) Whether it is to be established at Hyderabad or any place, let us come to a unanimous decision. First, let us have a Bench in the Southern part of India - whether it is at Hyderabad or any other place. Let us have a separate Bench in the North-East also.

SHRI K. YERRANNAIDU (SRIKAKULAM): It may be established at Hyderabad which is a convenient place. From almost everywhere, it is one hour's journey to reach Hyderabad...(Interruptions)

SHRI T.M. SELVAGANPATHI : I may agree to disagree.

But this is essential now because 25 crore people of the southern part of the country will be benefited by the setting up of this Bench. Since we do not have a Supreme Court Bench in the southern part of our country now, many people have been losing the opportunity of coming down to the Supreme Court to have justice.

Sir, the subject in one Unstarred Question, which my learned friend from Periyakulam, Shri T.T.V. Dhinakaran had posed before you, was with regard to the setting up of a High Court Bench at Madurai in the State of Tamil Nadu, the lack of which also involves the question of law delay. The sanction for the setting up of this Bench was accorded in the year 1995 and during the period of six months when our dynamic leader, Dr. Puratchi Thalaivi was in power we had processed the acquisition of land, but, unfortunately, when another Government came to power, acquisition of land is pending for almost five years now. So, I would request the hon. Minister to pull up the Government, the Government which sleeps. He has to awaken the Government. If it takes five years to acquire land for setting up a High Court Bench, then you can imagine the concern of that Government which it is having for law delay. (Interruptions) I am not accusing anybody. I want them to correct their mistake. This is very important to expedite the pending cases.

Coming to the core of this Bill, Section 102 of the principal Act relates to second appeal. I may be permitted to quote that Section. It says:

"No second appeal shall lie from any decree, when the amount or value of the subject-matter of the original suit does not exceed twenty-five thousand rupees." This section deals with the original suit. We would be happy and we would not mind if it deals only with the money suit or a mortgage suit, because the right of appeal to a person is ensured in our legal system. But this Section curtails the right of appeal to a person. I would even say that it would be unconstitutional; there are provisions to substantiate this. But why should we take away this right? For us, one rupee may not be significant; it may be a pittance, but for a poor farmer, for a man from the village, the amount of Rs.25,000 is very big. So, why should he be deprived of a provision for appeal in the name of law delays? Our country is based on agrarian economy, dominated by farmers and majority of them are poor. If they are subjected to a litigation and the amount of the subject-matter of the original suit is less than Rs.25,000, they cannot appeal to a higher forum. So, this has to be removed, considering the socio-economic conditions of our nation.

Secondly, this also applies to a title suit. Under the Court Fee Act, agricultural land is valued on the basis of the kisth paid for the land, that is, the market value of agricultural land is assessed at 30 times the kisth payment made to the Government. My land may be costlier, worth lakhs and lakhs of rupees, but as per the Court Fee Act, the value is fixed at 30 times of the kisth paid. If that is so, I would prefer to pay the court fee in accordance with the Court Fee Act, because the value is fixed on the basis of the Court Fee Act. So, I would request the hon. Minister to instruct that the property should be correctly valued. In that case, it should be on the original value, either guideline value or market value. So, he should first amend the Court Fee Act. I hope the hon. Minister would not object to my suggestion. If a codified Section is there - it is codified - that the value of agricultural land should be assessed on the basis of the kisth payment, then I foresee that there is going to be an anomaly, a crisis in this particular Amendment.

MR. CHAIRMAN : You have taken ten minutes. Your party was allowed only eight minutes. I have given two more minutes.

SHRI T.M. SELVAGANPATHI: Sir, please be gracious to give me some more time. The issue involved is very important.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There are nine more Members to speak.

SHRI T.M. SELVAGANPATHI : I will try to complete it.

Even if a property is worth more, the court fee suggests the way it should be valued. Therefore, I appeal to you that this may be scrapped.

As per Section 18, the Bill seeks to amend a very valuable provision. In this case, a settlement is permitted. It may even be made obligatory in many of these cases. But here I see that there is no time-limit prescribed for settlement. If we say that the settlement has to be accepted, the Presiding Officer has to refer it to a Lok Adalat for an arbitration. A time has to be prescribed. Otherwise, a litigant who is interested in protracting the litigation, would make use of this provision. In the case of a compromise, he would try to evade settlement and protract the issue. Therefore, I say that the prescription of time-limit is essential.

Section 100-A also bars a second appeal. The Chairman knows very well if a will is disputed. If a will executed by my father or grandfather is disputed, the first appeal lies with the High Court - the Single Bench. The second appeal is not allowed there. A person has to go to the Supreme Court. Why is this anomaly? It is because various High Courts in the States have different Rules of Procedure. In Delhi High Court, second appeal is not allowed. The Division Bench is not taking it. One has to go to the Supreme Court. In the Madras High Court, it is allowed. Again in the case of a judgment from a single Judge, one can prefer an appeal to the Division Bench. Therefore, there has to be uniformity throughout the nation. I call upon the Government to have a Division Bench. The second appeal should also be allowed. The hon. Minister knows that when we come to the Supreme Court for a Special Leave Petition, it is just thrown away in a minute. They do not even listen to us. They do not even hear us. Maybe they could listen a person like our hon.

Minister or our hon. Chairman! There are a number of advocates who simply file it for the sake of filing it. It is a waste of money. They file it and in a minute, it is disposed of and the bundle is thrown away. This is the case today.

Moreover, a majority of our litigants are poor. They cannot afford to come to Delhi because it is costly. The litigant cannot afford it. Therefore, the second appeal should be allowed in the High Court - Division Bench.

The other point is about the examination of witnesses. It is based purely on the Evidence Act. If we allow it to go into the hands of the Notaries or the junior Advocates, I do not think that expertise will benefit the Magistrate or the District Munsif or the Subordinate Judicial Officer. They are trained in the Evidence Act. Whether there is a dispute of marking the exhibit or not, it cannot be solved there. There will arise a dispute which will ultimately result in a lot of delay.

It is good that the Bill envisages a time-limit for Written Statement. For the plaintiff, there is a provision of Additional Written Statement. That also has to be taken into consideration.