The Manipur (Courts) Act, 1955

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The Manipur (Courts) Act, 1955 came into force on 30th December, 1955. The Act provides for establishment of Judicial Commissioners Court and other Courts in State of Manipur. Before Independence Manipur was a princely State. The King of Manipur signed an instrument and merged it into India in October 1949 followed by statehood in 1972. After the State came into existence inorder to facilitate smooth governance through law and order Manipur State Courts Act 1947 was enacted which was later repealed by The Manipur (Courts) Act, 1955.

Section 3 of the Act provides for establishment of Court of Judicial Commissioner constituting a Judicial Commissioner and Additional Judicial commissioner. A person qualified to be appointed as a judge under Article 217 clause (2) after assent of the President shall be appointed as Judicial Commissioner and additional Judicial Commissioner. The presiding officers of the Judicial Commissioners Court shall have enormous powers to regulate the functioning and administration of Judicial Commissioners court. The Court of Judicial Commissioner shall be the highest court both in civil and criminal matters incase of appeal revision or reference under section 8 of the Act. Section 9 and section 10 deals with powers granted to the Judicial Commissioners under the Act. The Judicial Commissioner has power to appoint registrars and delegate work to registrars so appointed, all the other courts shall be subordinate to the court of Judicial Commissioner. The court of Judicial Commissioner shall be a court of record and shall have power for call for record, make rules and issue directions to courts subordinate. The Judicial Commissioner shall be headed by Chief Commissioner incase the manner in which evidence is recorded is to be decided. The Chief Commissioner shall appoint the place where the Court of judicial commissioner shall be constituted. Section 34 of the Act entrusts revisional powers on the court of Judicial commissioner. Incase of absence of presiding officers in the Court of Judicial Commissioner the District Judge shall preside over the court.

Apart from the Court of Judicial Commissioner there shall be district court, court of subordinate judge and munsif court vested with powers of civil court. The Chief Commissioner under section 17 has power to divide the State of Manipur into civil districts and sub divisions. The Chief Commissioner in consultation with Judicial Commissioner has power to appoint district judges and additional district judge, munsiffs and subordinate judges whenever necessary. The district judge shall be appointed for every district or where ever necessary one district judge may be appointed for more than one district.  The district court under the Act has original jurisdiction over all civil matters and shall be a principal civil court. The Judicial Commissioner after notifying in the official gazette may confer upon any district judge, subordinate judge or munsiff, the jurisdiction of a judge of the court of small causes under the Provincial Small Cause Courts Act, 1887 for suits whose value does not extend beyond five hundred rupees.

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Section 25 of the Act empowers Judicial Commissioner to transfer, or take cognizance in matters relating to Indian Succession Act, Guardians and Wards Act and Provincial Insolvency Act. Incase of appeals Court of Judicial Commissioner shall be the highest followed by district court and munsiff court.  Sections 27 to 31 deals with powers of district courts which includes administrative control over all civil courts, power to distribute business, appointment of ministerial officers, delegation of powers of one court to another are vested with the district Courts. Further, an appeal against a decree from munsiff court in matters whose pecuniary value is five thousand rupees shall lie with district court. Incase of vacancy in district court the senior most munsiff shall assume charges of the court.

Section 40 of the Act deals with power of Judicial Commissioner to make rules in matters relating to supervision of subordinate courts, manner of proceedings in civil courts, matters relating to general administration of such courts. The Act also provides that wherein a judicial officer is interested he shall not preside such matter and matters where local customs and traditions have an overriding effect over law such matters shall be decided accordingly.

Thus it can be summarised that The Manipur (Courts) Act lays down all the necessary provisions for constitution, administration, regulation of Judicial Commissioner Court and the subordinate courts.

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by Vibhuti Nakta