SALIENT FEATURES OF THE 30TH CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

The Constitution of India, over the span of several years has been subjected to several constitutional amendments with the sole motive of keeping the revered document updated and in accordance with the developing times.

The 30th Constitutional Amendment is one such modification among the long list of 105 amendments. The bill was passed on 8th May, 1972 and was subsequently granted the status of an act on 22nd February, 1973. The fifth and sixth Law Commissions of India submitted their forty-fourth and forty-fifth reports under the chairmanship of Mr. K.V.K Sundaram and Justice P.B Gajendragadkar respectively to Shri H.R Gokhale, the then Minister of Law and Justice of India. The forty-forth as well as the forty-fifth report were both presented in the year 1971. Whereas the former articulated information in regards to The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in civil matters, the latter was centered on Civil appeal to the Supreme Court on a certificate of Fitness.

The thirtieth constitutional amendment bill is to be credited for giving effect to the recommendations of both these reports. The commission worked over the task of not just providing recommendations for the supposed legal issues, but also clearly stated the details and causes which led the Law Commission to take up this particular matter for its consideration and recommendations. The reasons for the aforementioned circumstances were elaborated in the first paragraph of the report. The fifth Law Commission was constituted to delve into the rationality of basing the right of appeal on the value of property to which the litigation is related.

As per Article 133, before it was amended, appeals to the Supreme Court, in civil matters among other things relied on a certificate provided by the High Court on the condition that the value of the dispute before the High Court is valued at an amount not less than twenty thousand rupees or that the judgment, decree or final order involves, directly or indirectly, some claim or question respecting property of the same amount as mentioned. However, the taking into consideration the valuation of a property in terms of money cannot be termed as an appropriate way to decide whether the right of appeal should be given or not.

Suits having large valuations associated with them do not necessarily guarantee the consideration of fundamental questions of law and this rule resulted in cases of large valuation and no merit, going up to the Apex Court.

Following a rhadamanthine consideration, the Law commission arrived at a conclusion that, in the matter of civil proceedings in the High Court, the appeal to the Apex Court should be permitted only when the High Court is of the view that the case in question is fit for an appeal, while maintaining the discretion of the Supreme Court to grant special leave to the appeal under Article 136.

The deletion of clauses (a) and (b) of Article 133(1) along with its amendment was suggested. This was a consequence of the Commission’s opinion to limit the application of the article to cases where it was certified by the High Court that the case is fit and well for an appeal to the Supreme Court. The matter was again referred to the sixth Law Commission to ensure its concurrence with the recommendations and suggestions of the fifth Law Commission.

As per the recommendation of the Law Commission, the amendment of article 133(1) would be highly beneficial for reducing the amount of appeals going to the Supreme Court just on the basis of their high valuation and it would lead to the Court deciding appeals that had a substantial question of law involved. Furthermore, the Law Commission provided the recommendation for the substitution of the following clause in place of clause(1) of Article 133:

“(1) An appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court from any judgment, decree or final order in a civil proceeding of a High Court in the territory of India if the High Court certifies-

(a) that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance; and

(b) that in the opinion of the High Court the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.”

Article 133 talks about the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court  in appeals from High Courts in regard to civil matters. The appellate jurisdiction of the Apex Court can be enforced with the help of a certificate granted by the High Court under Articles 132(1), 133(1) or 134 with respect to any judgment, decree or final order of a High Court in both civil and criminal cases, involving substantial questions of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution.

Appeals also lie to the Supreme Court in civil matters if the High Court concerned certifies :

(a) that the case involves a substantial question of law of general importance, and

(b) that, in the opinion of the High Court, the said question needs to be decided by the Supreme Court.

Sources:

  1. lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/1-50/Report44.pdf
  2. lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/1-50/Report45.pdf

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