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Parsidh NaraIn Pandey Vs. Kalapnath and anr. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil;Constitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Revn. No. 1399 of 1972 and 119 of 1973
Judge
Reported inAIR1973All523
ActsCode of Civil Procedure (CPC) , 1908 - Sections 115; Uttar Pradesh Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) (Amendment) Act, 1972 - Sections 6; Constitution of India - Article 14
AppellantParsidh NaraIn Pandey
RespondentKalapnath and anr.
Appellant AdvocateSankatha Rai, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateStanding Counsel and Adv. General
Excerpt:
.....(c) to have acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity, the high court or the district court may make such order in the case as it thinks fit. the amendment failed in its objective of reducing the pressure of cases on the high court and due to unavoidable delay in disposal the problem of accumulation of cases in courts continued unabated. (4) that classification may be founded on different basis, namely, geographical, or according to objects or occupations or the like; (5) in permissible classification mathematical nicety and perfect equality are not required. 9. in the light of these well established principles it cannot be ruled that the impugned legislation violates the principle of equality before the law or by the equal protection of the laws..........it was urged that suits valued at less than twenty thousand rupees are triable not only by a civil judge but also by a district judge. if such a suit is tried by the civil judge after the coming into force of ths amending act, 1972, a party has a right to challenge the decision by filing a revision before the district judge, but if the same suit is tried by the district judge, no revision would be maintainable. similarly if a suit is tried by a munsif, an appeal against his decree could be heard either by a civil judge or by a district judge. an order passed by a civil judge in his appellate jurisdiction could be challenged before the district judge in revision but no revision would be maintainable if the order is passed by a district judge in an appeal against the decree of a.....
Judgment:

K.N. Seth, J.

1. The following question has been referred to this Bench for its opinion:--

'Is Section 6 of U. P. Act No. 37 of 1972 ultra vires of the Constitution being violative of Article 14 thereof?'

2. Prior to its amendment by Section 6 of the Uttar Pradesh Civil Laws Amendment Act (Act No. 37 of 1972), Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure was amendedby U. P. Act 14 of 1970. Section 3 of the aforesaid Act provided that for the words 'High Court' wherever occurring in Section 115, the words 'High Court or District Court' shall be substituted, and that at the end the following proviso shall be inserted:

'Provided that nothing in this section shall be construed to empower the District Court to call for the record of any case arising out of an original suit of the value of twenty thousand rupees or above.'

3. U. P. Act 37 of 1972 passed by the State Legislature received the assent of the President of India on 12-9-1972 and was published in the U. P. Gazette dated 16-9-1972. A notification under Section 3 (1) of the Act appointing 20-9-1972 as the date of its enforcement was published in the Gazette of the same date. As amended by Section 6 of the U. P. Act 37 of 1972, Section 115, Civil Procedure Code now reads:--

'The High Court in cases arising out of original suits of the value of twenty thousand rupees and above, and the District Court in any other case may call for the record of any case which has been decided by any Court subordinate to such High Court or District Court, as the case may be, and in which the appeal lies thereto, and if such subordinate court appears;

(a) to have exercised a jurisdiction not vested in it by law, or

(b) to have failed to exercise a jurisdiction so vested, or

(c) to have acted in the exercise of its jurisdiction illegally or with material irregularity, the High Court or the District Court may make such order in the case as it thinks fit.'

4. It was contended that Section 6 of the Amending Act results in discrimination and is ultra vires of the Constitution being violative of Article 14 thereof. It was urged that suits valued at less than twenty thousand rupees are triable not only by a Civil Judge but also by a District Judge. If such a suit is tried by the Civil Judge after the coming into force of ths Amending Act, 1972, a party has a right to challenge the decision by filing a revision before the District Judge, but if the same suit is tried by the District Judge, no revision would be maintainable. Similarly if a suit is tried by a Munsif, an appeal against his decree could be heard either by a Civil Judge or by a District Judge. An order passed by a Civil Judge in his appellate jurisdiction could be challenged before the District Judge in revision but no revision would be maintainable if the order is passed by a District Judge in an appeal against the decree of a Munsif. It was further contended that if a part of the suit property is in Uttar Pradesh and part of it is in some other State, a party under the law can institute the suit in either of the two States. If the suit is instituted in aState other than Uttar Pradesh, the right of revision of the party remains unaffected but if the suit is filed in the State of Uttar Pradesh he may be totally deprived of his right to approach to superior Court in revision. The discrimination resulting from Section 6 of the Amending Act renders that provision ultra vires as being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

5. The delay in disposal of suits and the huge accumulation of cases in various courts led the State Legislature to amend Section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure by U. P. Act 14 of 1970 and to confer on the District Court also the revisional power under the Code of Civil Procedure which was till then exercised by the High Court alone except in cases arising out of an original suit of the value of twenty thousand rupees or above. As a consequence of this amendment concurrent power of revision was conferred on District Judges along with the High Court in cases arising out of original suits of the value of less than twenty thousand rupees, The High Court's power of revision remained intact and a litigant could approach the High Court, irrespective of the valuation of the suit, either directly or by challenging the revisional order of the District Judge. The amendment failed in its objective of reducing the pressure of cases on the High Court and due to unavoidable delay in disposal the problem of accumulation of cases in Courts continued unabated. It was in fact further aggravated as the revisional order of the District Judge could be subjected to a further revision before the High Court. It thus became necessary to further amend Section 115, Civil Procedure Code. By Section 6 of the U. P. Act No. 37 of 1972 the revisional power of the High Court is confined to cases arising out of original suit of the value of twenty thousand rupees or above.

6. The constitutionality of Section 6 of U. P. Act No. 37 of 1972 is challenged primarily on the ground that in view of the amended Section 115, Civil Procedure Code orders passed in suits of similar nature and valuation may or may not be subject to revision depending on whether the order is passed by a District Judge or a Munsif/Civil Judge and a similar type of discrimination may arise in case of orders passed by a District Judge or a Civil Judge exercising appellate jurisdiction. The amended provision results in creating discrimination and is thus hit by Article 14 of the Constitution.

7. Article 14 ensures that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. It combines the English doctrine of the rule of law with the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. The language of the Article suggests that the prohibition is absolute but judicial decisionshave incorporated in it the doctrine of classification. The State has power of enacting laws based on or involving a classification founded on an intelligible differentia having a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the law.

8. The true meaning and scope of Article 14 has been explained in several decisions of the Supreme Court and summarised in the case of Ram Krishna Dalmia v. S. R. Tendolkar, AIR 1958 SC 538. Some of the propositions, which are established by Dalmia's case and other cases to which it refers, are as follows:--

(1) Article 14 condemns discrimination not only by a substantive law but also by a law of procedure;

(2) Article 14 forbids class legislation but does not forbid classification;

(3) Permissible classification must satisfy two conditions, namely,

(i) it must be founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes persons or things that are grouped together from others left out of the group, and

(ii) that differentia must have a rational relation to the object sought to be achieved by the Statute in question;

(4) that classification may be founded on different basis, namely, geographical, or according to objects or occupations or the like;

(5) in permissible classification mathematical nicety and perfect equality are not required. Similarity, not identity of treatment, is enough;

(6) there is always a presumption in favour of the constitutionality of an enactment and the burden is upon him who attacks it to show that there has been a clear transgression of the constitutional principles;

(7) it must be presumed that the Legislature understands and correctly appreciates the need of its own people, that its laws are directed to problems made manifest by experience and that its discriminations are based on adequate grounds;

(8) in order to sustain the presumption of constitutionality the Court may take into consideration matters of common knowledge, matters of common report, the history of the times and may assume every state of facts which can be conceived existing at the time of legislation.

9. In the light of these well established principles it cannot be ruled that the impugned legislation violates the principle of equality before the law or by the equal protection of the laws which is enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution. The object behind the impugned legislation was to eliminate one of the causes of delay in the disposal of suits. A factor which often leads to delay in disposal of suits is the right of a litigant to approach the superior courts in revision. When an order is challenged inrevision it invariably leads to the stay ofproceedings in the suit. Due to pressure ofwork the revisions are not speedily decidedwith the result that suits remain pending fora considerable period. Apparently the Legislature in its wisdom thought it expedientto confine the revisional power of the HighCourt to cases arising out of suits of a certain valuation only and to confer that poweron the District Judge in cases arising out ofsuits of valuation below that amount. If thepower of the High Court to revise the ordersof the subordinate courts in suits or appealsvalued at less than twenty thousand rupeeshas been taken away, it cannot be successfully contended that the classification is notfounded on any intelligible differentia andthe differentia has no rational relation to theobject sought to be achieved. The impugnedAct cannot be held to be unconstitutional onthe ground that an order may not be opento revision if it is passed by a District Judgetrying a suit valued at less than twenty thousand rupees but 'if another suit of the samevaluation is tried by a Civil Judge, his orderwould be open to revision before the District Judge. If the Legislature consideredthat an order of a DistrictJudge, who is invariably a more experienced officer, may not be opento revision before the High Court if theorder arises out of a suit valued at below acertain amount, it does not result in discrimination but can be justified on the doctrineof permissible classification as it is based onan intelligible differentia which has a rationalrelation to the object sought to be achieved.

10. The validity of the legislation in question has also been challenged on the reasoning that the Code of Civil Procedure is a Central Act and by the amendment introduced by the State Legislature discrimination would result as an order passed in a suit filed in Uttar Pradesh may not be open to revision but an order passed in a suit of similar nature and of same valuation instituted in another State would be open to revision. The same discrimination would arise where part of the suit property is in Uttar Pradesh and part of it in some other State as under the law a suit can be instituted in either of the two States. The impugned legislation is not open to challenge on this ground also. As observed in State of Madhya Pradesh v. G. C Mandawar, AIR 1954 SC 493

'the power of the Court to declare a law void under Article 13 has to be exercised with reference to the specific legislation which is impugned. ........................ Article 14does not authorise the striking down of a law of one State on the ground that in contrast with a law of another State on the same subject its provisions are discriminatory. Nor does it contemplate a law of the Centre or the State dealing with similar subjects being held to be unconstitutional by a process of comparative study of the provisions of the two enactments. The sourcesof authority for the two statutes being different, Article 14 can have no application'.

The validity of the impugned legislation thus cannot be challenged on the ground that it results in curtailment of the scope and ambit of the revisional powers of the courts in the State of U. P. in connection with the powers conferred on the courts in other States.

11. It was next contended that by enforcing the amended provision from a particular date an arbitrary classification has been made inasmuch as an order already challenged in revision before the appointed date may be governed by the provisions of Section 115, Civil Procedure Code as it stood prior to the 1972 amendment; a revision challenging an order after the amended provision came into force could be governed by a different law although the suits or proceedings giving rise to the two cases may have come into existence at the same time: it is well established by judicial precedents that it is for the legislature to decide upon the date from which a particular law should come into operation. No plausible argument could be advanced against treating the pending proceeding as a distinct class for the purpose of Article 14. For the enforcement of the Act a date has to be specified. The Act received the assent of the President on 12-9-1972 and was published in the Gazette dated 16-9-1972. It was notified that the Act would come into force on 20-9-1972. The selection of the aforesaid date by the legislature could not be characterized as arbitrary or fanciful. As observed by Shah J. in Hathising . v. Union of India, AIR 1960 SC 923, 'the State is undoubtedly prohibited from denying to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws, but by enacting a law which applies generally to all persons who come within its ambit as from the date on which it becomes operative, no discrimination is practised.' The same principle was reiterated in Jain Brothers v. Union of India, AIR 1970 SC 778. In that case the constitutionality and validity of Section 297(2)(g) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 was challenged on the ground that that provision creates a discrimination between two sets of assessees with reference to a particular date, namely, completion of assessment proceedings on or after 1-4-1962. For imposition of penalty assessees have been classified in two groups those whose assessment has been completed before 1-4-1962, the proceedings and imposition of penalty would be governed by the Act of 1922 whereas in case of assessee whose assessment is completed after the specified date, the Act of 1961 would govern the proceeding for imposition of penalty. It was contended that Article 14 was attracted because the classification made was purely arbitrary depending on the accident of the completion of the assessment. The argument wasrepelled and it was held that the classification, was based on intelligible differentia having reasonable relation to the object intended to be achieved.

12. After a careful consideration of the question raised we are of the opinion that Section 6 of U. P. Act 37 of 1972 is not violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. Our answer to the question referred is in the negative.


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