Oldest civil, criminal cases started before current SC judges were even born | India News


NEW DELHI: None of the present lot of 27 Supreme Court judges was born when the oldest civil and criminal cases, still at the stage of adjudication by the trial courts, were instituted by the police and citizens within three years of India becoming a Republic.
Justice Dinesh Maheshwari is the oldest among the present SC judges being born on May 15, 1958. He was appointed an HC judge on September 2, 2004, took oath as SC judge on January 18, 2019 and will retire from the SC on May 14 this year. The oldest criminal case under Section 65E of the Maharashtra Prohibition Act, 1949, was registered by Raigad police on May 18, 1953, five years before Justice Maheshwari was born, before Judicial Magistrate First Class (JFMC), Uran, in Raigad district.
The same year the JFMC had warrants against accused Jangbahadur Brijlal Joshi, who was charged under Section 65E [selling, buying, or possessing any intoxicant (other than opium) or hemp] of the 1949 Act, which on conviction attracts a minimum punishment of three years’ jail term and fine of Rs 25,000 or a maximum of five years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 50,000.
The JFMC had issued non-bailable arrest warrants against the accused in the case no. 47/1953. It is not clear from the record whether the accused is still alive nearly 70 years after the institution of the case. If alive, he would be in ripe old age. The JFMC has fixed the case for further hearing on February 9 this year, as per the data available on National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG).
Another criminal case under Section 381 (theft by clerk or servant of property in possession of master), which provides for a punishment of seven years’ imprisonment on conviction, was filed by Raigad police against Shankar Sonu Malgund on May 25, 1956, two years before the birth of Justice Maheshwari. This case is also listed for further hearing on February 9 before the same JFMC, Uran, at Raigad.
Oldest among pending civil suits, seeking partition of family property, was filed by Jabendra Narayan Chowdhury against Ashutosh Chowdhury before a civil court in Malda, West Bengal, on April 4, 1952. After 66 years, on September 25, 2018, the Malda civil judge (senior division) was informed that defendant No.4 had died leaving behind his widow and three children —two sons and a daughter. He ordered the legal heir to be impleaded as parties. The case has not progressed further since then.
The second oldest civil case, too, is pending before the same civil court in Malda for more than 70 years. Parvati Roy had filed the suit against Bipracharan Sarkar on July 18, 1952. Since 2018, the civil judge is awaiting a report on the outcome of mediation between the parties.
The Calcutta HC has the infamy of having on its record the oldest civil case, which has been pending since 1951, and the oldest criminal appeal, filed and pending since 1969. Of the total nearly 60 lakh civil and criminal cases pending in the 25 HCs, 51,846 civil cases and 21,682 criminal cases are more than 30 years old.
As many as 79,587 pending criminal cases, pending in trial court, are more than 30 years old. Those filed in 1975 and still pending are 216; filed in 1980 and pending are 1,026; filed in 1985 and pending are 3,515; filed in 1990 and pending are 10,376; and, filed in 1992 and pending are 16,256. Of the total 3.23 crore pending criminal cases in trial courts, 71% are less than five year-old.
More than 30-year-old live civil cases in trial courts number 36,223. Those filed in year 1965 and still pending are 31; 1975 – 269; 1980 – 862; 1985 – 1,875; 1990 – 3,850; and, 1992 – 5,373. Of the total 1.09 crore civil cases pending in trial courts, 73% are less than five years old.


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