Been getting few text messages from my brethren that their Honours sitting in the High Court of Delhi in a meeting yesterday have increased the pecuniary jurisdiction from presently Rs. 2 to Rs. 20 million.
Brief point: When a person institutes a civil action, the lawsuit has a basic monetary value attached to it. Like if it is a property matter, then the value of the property–per the circle rate prevailing–or if it is a recovery suit then the amount sought to be recovered becomes the value of the lawsuit. Or the amount of notional/actual damages suffered in intellectual property matters.
Depending on this valuation a litigant in Delhi can file his lawsuit, presently in the District Courts if the value is less than Rs. 2 million; or in the High Court if the value exceeds Rs. 2 million.
The text messages doing the rounds, if confirmed, means that the District Courts will now try and hear the civil suits up to the value of Rs. 20 million. Last time the increase was from Rs. 500,000 to Rs. 20,00,000 in the year 2002. The High Court Registry transferred all the pending civil lawsuits up to the value of Rs. 2 million to the District Court. Same shall happen this time around.
There have always been concerns whether the pecuniary jurisdiction of Delhi High Court should increase or not. In 2002 when the jurisdiction increased from 500,000 to Rs. 2 million, Delhi High Court Bar Association raised a point and there was a strike as well. However, as per Hindu’s article, some legal experts welcomed this decision also. There are arguments on both sides. Many a times, recently, lawyers body has raised the demand of increase in jurisdiction from the present Rs. 2 million.
As a lawyer who has been practicing in Delhi since 2005, it is my experience that if the pecuniary jurisdiction of Delhi High Court is increased, it will be superbly beneficial to people awaiting their pending appeals to be heard in the High Court. There are criminal appeals, matters pertaining to senior citizen category, writ petitions etc which are pending since long. This jurisdiction shall always remain with the High Court.
As on November 22, 2012 there are 35 Judges in Delhi High Court as against the sanctioned strength of 48. Once this figure is achieved, all these 48 judges can bring down the pendency data magnificently down. Presently, out of the 35, only 6 are hearing the matters pertaining to the original jurisdiction. These 6 judges can prove to be a great resource in bringing down pendency level of criminal appeals, bails, writs and so forth.
It is a public knowledge about the delay in judicial disposal. Just google “judicial delay”. The Law Ministry and various Judges have also raised this point many a times.
On Dec 20, 1991 when Rajya Sabha was hearing the motion to increase the jurisdiction from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 500,000, even then, in 1991, there was an interesting suggestion that the fee should increase to Rs. 5 million! Today, in 2012, when the property prices in Delhi have shot up massively and circle rates of property recently increased again, it will be unfair to burden the High Court with the original jurisdiction for a small amount like Rs. 2 million.
If such an increase happens let it test the water. Maybe in the long run, like earlier examples, it might prove to be a good decision.
(At 6 pm, Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) has released a Notice saying that the Executive Committee of DHCBA has given a representation to the Chief Justice and other Judges of the High Court for consideration. Following is the notice from DHCBA:)