The Delhi High Court Amendment Bill, 2015 finally saw the light of day

delhi_high_court_03The much debated Delhi High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was finally passed by the Parliament on 5th day of August 2015. The Amendment aims to bring about a substantive change in the pecuniary jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court and shall have significant impact on the number of cases pending before the Delhi High Court.

Pecuniary jurisdiction refers to the jurisdiction of a court over a suit based on the amount or value of its subject matter. Thus, the Amendment would enhance the pecuniary jurisdiction of civil suits in the Delhi High Court from existing Rs. 20 lakh to 2 crores.

At present, cases involving even a small property are required to be filed before the Delhi High Court as the Delhi High Court has ordinary original civil jurisdiction of the civil suits involving value of rupees twenty lakhs and above. This has increased the work load of the Delhi High Court. The above mentioned Amendment would reduce the workload of the Delhi High Court and distribute the burden to the lower courts. The Amendment once enforced would empower the Chief Justice of the High Court to transfer any pending suit valued up to Rs. 2 crore to the concerned lower court. According to the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report, this bill would result in the transfer of 12,211 cases which are pending before the Delhi High Court at present. They will be transferred to the concerned district courts and eight judicial officers who are on deputation as Joint Registrar (Judicial) to the High Court will be repatriated to district courts to deal with the cases.

The Bill would provide justice at door steps of the litigants and people hailing from distant areas will also get relief as they will no longer have to travel all the way to the High Court, and can now seek relief in the concerned district court itself. It will reduce the cost of litigation as the cost of hiring a district court lawyer is much less than that of engaging a High Court counsel.The Amendment would also allow district courts to try more matters and gain expertise.

The Bombay High Court also enhanced its pecuniary jurisdiction up to Rs. 1 crore in the year 2012. However, the court retained jurisdiction over certain matters such as those connected with Intellectual Property Rights, Letters of Patent, Parsi Marriage and Divorce etc., even if the valuation of such suits is less than 1 crore.