disposal of civil cases perestroika by fDQ7Zq

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									               DISPOSAL OF CIVIL CASES: PERESTROIKA



                                                  By

                                           Y. SRINIVASA RAO

                                           M.A(English)., B.Ed., B.L., LL.M (Final)

                                           I Addditional Junior Civil Judge,

                                           Bhimavaram



INTRODUCTION:

          According to recent reports over three million cases are pending in
India's 21 high courts, and an astounding 26.3 million cases are pending in
subordinate courts across the country. In subordinate courts, Uttar Pradesh again
topped the number of pending cases (4.6 million), followed by Maharashtra (4.1 million),
Gujarat (3.9 million), West Bengal (1.9 million), Bihar (1.2 million), Karnataka (1.06
million), Rajasthan (1.05 million), Orissa (1 million), Andhra Pradesh (900,000) 1. How
long can a civil case be pending in court ? The answer appears to, in the mind of
a common citizen, be that once a case is filed in court it may remain pending for
as long as the case is being actively prosecuted by the parties without regard to any
statute of limitations. Statutes of limitation require only that lawsuits be filed
within a certain period of time after the occurrence of the incident that gave rise to
the cause of action. Once the case is filed, however, it may remain pending until
properly disposed of. However, If a case is particularly complex and if the
particular court system is crowded with other cases, a lawsuit maybe pending in
court years after the termination of the limitations period.



WHAT STEPS ARE TO BE TAKEN TO REDUCE PENDENCY OF CIVIL
CASES?

In my considered view, strict application of the following provisions may help to
reduce pendency of civil cases and can dispose of those cases speedily.

Order VIII, Rule 1: Filing Written Statement.

The defendant shall present his written statement within thirty days from the date
of service of summons on him. However, in view of the proviso, he shall be
allowed not later than 90 by the Court after recording reasons.


Order VIII, Rule 10: Procedure when party fails to present written statement
called for by Court.

      '' Where any party from whom a written statement is required under rule 1 or
      rule 9 fails to present the same within the time permitted or fixed by the
      Court, as the case may be, the Court shall pronounce judgment against him,
      or make such order relating to the suit as it thinks fit and on the
      pronouncement of such judgment a decree shall be drawn up."

1   http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/2385-nearly-30-million-cases-pending-courts.html
                                                  :2:

          In view of this provision, in case of a party fails to file written statement
within time permitted or fixed by the Court, the Court can pronounce Judgment
against him.

Order VII, Rule 14(2): Where any such documents is not in possession or power
of the plaintiff, he shall, wherever possible, state in whose possession or power it
is.

To know more as to production of documents, It is suggested to go through the
landmark ruling i.e '' Salem Advocate Bar Association, Tamil Nadu vs Union of
India'', AIR 2005 SC 3363= 2005(5) Supreme 236=(2005) 6 SCC 344

Order VII, Rule 18: This Provision was omitted by C.P.C (Amendment )Act,22
of 2002 (w.e.f. 01-07-2002). Order VIII, Rules 8 A,9,10 :These Provisions were
omitted by C.P.C (Amendment )Act,22 of 2002 (w.e.f. 01-07-2002).

 Order XV, Rule 1: Court is competent to pronounce judgment at once:-
Under this provision, ''Where at the first hearing of a suit it appears that the partied
are not at issue on any question of law or fact, the court may at once pronounce
judgment.'' In Desi Kedari vs Huzurabad Co-Operative Markting Society Ltd,
1994 (2) ALT 539 (DB), it was held that Court is competent to pronounce
judgment at once under Order 15 Rule 1 at the first hearing of the suit when there
is no issue to be framed on any question of law or fact. Procedure under Order 20
need not be followed in such a case.

Order XVI, Rule 1: Under this provision, not later than fifteen (15) days after the
issues are settled, the parties shall present in Court a list of witnesses whom they
propose to call either to give evidence or to produce documents and obtain
summonses to such person for their attendance in Court.

The objects and reasons :

The objects and reasons of sub section (i) of Rule 1 of Order XVI is that at any
time after the suit is instituted, the parties may obtain, on application to the Court,
or to such other officer as may be appointed by the Court, summons to persons
whose attendance is required after to give evidence or to produce documents.
There is some doubt as to whether, in view of the use of the words '' may obtain'',
the Court under an obligation to issue the summons irrespective of any other
considerations. The rule is being substituted to provide that the application for the
issue of summons should indicate the purpose foe which the summons is being
obtained. The substituted rule is also lays down the procedure for the filing of a
list of witnesses by the parties and provides that a person not mentioned in the list
shall not be produced as a witness without the permission of the Court2.

Order XVI, Rule 1A:

A subject to the provisions of sub-rule (3) of rule 1, and party to the suit may,
without applying for summons under rule 1, bring any witness to give evidence or
to produce documents. To under standing the scope of this rule, it is essential to go
through the Hon'ble Supreme Court decision reported in AIR 1983 SC 925.

Order XIII, Rules 1 and 2: The original Rules 1 and 2 subs by Act 46 of 1999
(w.e.f. 01-07-2002). the substituted Rules 1 and 2 read as:

(1) The parties or their pleader shall produce, on or before the settlement of issues,
all the documentary evidence of in original where the copies thereof have been

2   Statement of Objects and Reasons (Bill) – Gazette of India, Ext., dt 8-4-1974, Pt.II,S.2,.p.317
                                                 :3:

filed along with plaint or written statement.
(2) The Court shall receive the documents so produced
Provided that they are accompanied by an accurate list thereof prepared in such
form as the High Court directs.
(3) Nothing in sub-rule (1) shall apply to documents,-
(a) produced for the cross-examination of the witnesses of the other party, or
(b) handed over to a witness merely to refresh his memory.

Order X, Rule 23: it provides oral examination of the parties to the suit with a
view to elucidate the matters in controversy in th suit. Court is also empowered
under Or XIV, Rule 4 to summon and examine a person not before the Court or to
summon a document not filed n the suit, if the examination of witness or
inspection of document is essential for correctly framing the issues.

OBJECTS AND REASONS:

Rule 2 of Or X provides for the oreal examination of any party appearing in person
or present in Court or any other person able to answer any material quetions. Rule
2 is being substituted to make it obligatory on the part of the Court to examine the
party appearing in person or present in Court for elucidating the matters in
Controversy4.

Order X, Rule 1: Ascertainment whether allegations in pleadings are
admitted or denied-

      At the first hearing of the suit the Court shall ascertain from each party or his
      pleader whether he admits or denies such allegations of fact as are made in
      the plaint or written statement (if any) of the opposite party, and as are not
      expressly or by necessary implication admitted or denied by the party against
      whom they are made. The Court shall record such admissions and denials.

In view of this provision, if there is specific denial of allegation in plaint, court can
proceed under this provision and pronounce judgment under Or 15 ,Rule 1 of
C.P.C even without framing any issue. In Desi Kedari vs Huzurabad Co-
Operative Markting Society Ltd, 1994 (2) ALT 539 (DB), it was held that ''
where there is no denial of allegations in plaint, Court can proceed under Order 10,
Rule 1 on the admission of facts without framing any issue and pronounce
judgment at once under Order 15, Rule 1.

3   Oral examination of party, or companion of party
        (1) At the first hearing of the suit, the Court-

                (a) shall, with a view to elucidating matters in controversy in
             the suit examine orally such of the parties to the suit appearing in
             person or present in Court, as it deems fit; and

             (b) may orally examine any person, able to answer any material
             question relating to the suit, by whom any party appearing in
             person or present in Court or his pleader is accompanied.

       (2) At any subsequent hearing, the Court may orally examine any party
      appearing in person or present in Court, or any person, able to answer any
      material question relating to the suit, by whom such party or his pleader is
      accompanied.

      (3) The Court may, if it thinks fit, put in the course of an examination under
      this rule questions suggested by either party.


4   Statement of Objects and Reasons (Bill) – Gazette of India, Ext., dt 8-4-1974, Pt.II,S.2,.p.315
                                               :4:




Order XI, Rule14: It shall be lawful for the Court, at any time during the
pendency of any suit, to order the production by any party thereto, upon oath of
such of the documents in his possession or power, relating to any matter in
question in such suit, as the Court shall think right; and the Court may deal with
such documents, when produced, in such manner as shall appear just.

This provisions specifically empowers the Court at any time during the pendencey
of the suit to order the production by any party thereto, upon oath of such of the
documents in his possession or power, relating to any matter in question in such
suit. To know more, about this provision, it is suggested to go through the
following rulings: 1). The vysya Bank Ltd. Vs B.Settharamaih, 1993 ALT
Supp. (1) 333; 2). Rajesh Batia vs G.Parimala, 2006(3) ALT 129.


ORDER XI, Rule 21;

(1) Where any party fails to comply with any order to answer interrogatories, or
for discovery or inspection of documents, he shall, if a plaintiff, be liable to have
his suit dismissed for want of prosecution, and, if a defendant, to have his defence,
if any struck out, and to be placed in the same position as if he had not defended,
and the party interrogating or seeking discovery or inspection may apply to the
Court for an order to that effect and 2[an order may be made on such application
accordingly, after notice to the parties and after giving them a reasonable
opportunity of being heard.

(2) Where an order is made under sub-rule (1) dismissing any suit, the plaintiff
shall be precluded from bringing a fresh suit on the same cause of action.

Order XII, Rules 1 and 2: As to Admission.

 Under Order XII, a notice to admit facts shall be issued in Form 10, Appendix-C;
and the notice to admit documents shall be issued in Form-9 of Appendix-C with
such variations as the circumstances may require.

THE OBJECTS AND REASONS:

The committed note that as there is no time-limit laid down for filing documents in
Rule2 of Order XII, it causes unnecessary delay in the disposal of suits. The
committee feel that in order expedite disposal of suits, a time-limit of fifteen days
for filing of documents might be fixed. Sub-clause (i) in the clause proposing
amendment to Rule 2 of Order XII has been inserted accordingly5.

Section 30 (c) and Order XIX:

SECTIONS 35-A:6


5   Report of Joint Committee -- Gazette of India, Ext., dt 1-4-1976, Pt.II, S.2, p.804/13
6   35-A:               Compensatory costs in respect of false or vexatious claims or defenses.
        (1) If any suit or other proceedings [including an execution proceedings but
      [excluding an appeal or a revision]] any party objects to the claim of defence
      on the ground that the claim or defence or any part of it is, as against the
      objector, false or vexatious to the knowledge of the party by whom it has
      been put forward, and if thereafter, as against the objector, such claim or
      defence is disallowed, abandoned or withdrawn in whole or in part, the Court,
      [if it so thinks fit] may, after recording its reasons for holding such claim or
      defence to be false or vexatious, make an order for the payment the object or
                                            :5:


SECTION 35-B7:


      by the party by whom such claim or defence has been put forward, of cost by
      way of compensation.

      (2) No Court shall make any such order for the payment of an amount
      exceeding [three thousand rupees] or exceeding the limits of it pecuniary
      jurisdiction, whichever amount is less:

                 Provided that where the pecuniary limits of the jurisdiction of
             any Court exercising the jurisdiction of a Court of Small Causes
             under the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887 (9 of 1887)
             [or under a corresponding law in force in [any part of India to
             which the said Act does not extend]] and not being a Court
             constituted [under such Act or law], are less than two hundred and
             fifty rupees, the High Court may empower such Court to award as
             costs under this section any amount not exceeding two hundred
             and fifty rupees and not exceeding those limits by more than one
             hundred rupees:

             Provided, further, that the High Court may limit the amount or
             class of Courts is empowered to award as costs under this Section.

        (3) No person against whom an order has been made under this section
      shall, by reason thereof, be exempted from any criminal liability in respect of
      any claim or defence made by him.

      (4) The amount of any compensation awarded under this section in respect of
      a false or vexatious claim or defence shall be taken into account in any
      subsequent suit for damages or compensation in respect of such claim or
      defence


7   35B. Costs for causing delay.
        (1) If, on any date fixed for the hearing of a suit or for taking any step
      therein, a party to the suit-

               (a) fails to take the step which he was required by or under this
             Code to take on that date, or

             (b) obtains an adjournment for taking such step or for producing
             evidence or on any other ground,

        the Court may, for reasons to be recorded, make an order requiring such
      party to pay to the other party such costs as would, in the opinion of the
      Court, be reasonably sufficient to reimburse the other party in respect of the
      expenses incurred by him in attending the Court on that date, and payment of
      such costs, on the date next following the date of such order, shall be a
      condition precedent to the further prosecution of-

                (a) the suit by the plaintiff, where the plaintiff was ordered to
             pay such costs.

             (b) the defence by the defendant, where the defendant was
             ordered to pay such costs.

        Explanation.-Where separate defences have been raised by the defendants or
      groups of defendants, payment of such costs shall be a condition precedent to
      the further prosecution of the defence by such defendants or groups of
      defendants as have been ordered by the Court to pay such costs.
                                          :6:


ORDER XXXIX, Rules 3, 3A:

SECTION 80:

SECTION 89:

Settlement of disputes outside the Court.

     (1) Where it appears to the court that there exist elements of a settlement
     which may be acceptable to the parties, the court shall formulate the terms of
     settlement and give them to the parties for their observations and after
     receiving the observation of the parties, the court may reformulate the terms
     of a possible settlement and refer the same for-

           (a) arbitration;

           (b) conciliation

           (c) judicial settlement including settlement through Lok Adalat;
           or

           (d) mediation



ORDER XXXII-A, Rule 3: Duty of Court to make efforts for settlement

     (1) In every suit or proceeding to which this Order applies, an endeavour shall
     be made by the Court in the first instance, where it is possible to do so
     consistent with the nature and circumstances of the case, to assist the parties
     in arriving at a settlement in respect of the subject-matter of the suit.

     (2) If, in any such suit or proceeding, at any stage it appears to the Court that
     there is a reasonable possibility of a settlement between the parties, the Court
     may adjourn the proceeding for such period as it thinks fit to enable attempts
     to be made to effect such a settlement.

     (3) The power conferred by sub-rule (2) shall be in addition to, and not in
     derogation of, any other power of the Court to adjourn the proceedings.



ORDER V,Rule 3: Court may order defendant or plaintiff to appear in
person

     (1) Where Court sees reason to require the personal appearance of the
     defendant, the summons shall order him to appear in person in Court on the
     day therein specific

     (2) Where the Court sees reason to require the personal appearance of the
     plaintiff on the same day, it shall make an order for such appearance.



     (2) The costs, ordered to be paid under sub-section (1) shall not, if paid, be
     included in the costs awarded in the decree passed in the suit; but, if such
     costs are not paid, a separate order shall be drawn up indicating the amount of
     such costs and the names and addresses of the persons by whom such costs
     are payable and the order so drawn up shall be executable against such
     persons.
                                         :7:


ORDER XVII, Rule 1(1): Court may grant time and adjourn hearing

     (1) The Court may, if sufficient cause is shown, at any stage of the suit grant
     time to the parties or to any of them, and may from time to time adjourn the
     hearing of the suit for reasons to be recorded in writing:

     Provided that no such adjournment shall be granted more than three times
     to a party during hearing of the suit.

Go through the rulings '' Salem Advocate Bar Association, Tamil Nadu, AIR 2005
SC 3363; V.N.Shivaram vs B.M.Nagappa, AIR 2003 Karn 18; Niranjan Sarkar
vs Swapna Dam, 1998(1) CCC 140 (Gau)= 1998(3) ALT 6.3(DN OHC).

CONCLUSION:

      Keeping in view the above provisions in mind, with strict application of the
principles underlined in those provisions, we can undoubtedly reduce the
pendency of civil cases. The desideratum should be to keep the level of disposals
at least 25-30% above the cases instituted and it is for achieving this target, the
judicial fraternity should march forward.

                                  -x-

								
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