HC Deb 20 January 1942 vol 377 cc300-2

Order for Second Reading read.

The Secretary of State for India (Mr. Amery)

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

The Measure before the House deals with a purely technical point which appears to have been omitted or overlooked when the provisions of the Government of India Act, dealing with the appointment of the Federal Court of India, passed this House. Under Section 214 of that Act not less than three judges of the Federal Court must sit to decide a case. Section 202 of that Act also provides for the appointment of a temporary supernumerary judge in the case of the inability of one of the permanent judges to fulfil the duties of his office. The legal interpretation of this, I am informed, is that the inability is general, in other words, that for one reason or another the judge in question is incapable of attending to the duties of his office generally. It does not include provision for a case where it may be undesirable that a judge should sit in the court owing to the fact that he may possibly have some interest, direct or indirect, in the verdict, or may on a previous occasion, whether as judge in another court or as counsel, have taken a particular view of the case. Now precisely that circumstance has recently arisen. The latest-appointed member of the Federal Court is himself cited as a party in a case before the Revenue Court of the Punjab. The decision in that case in its turn depends upon the results of an appeal to the Federal Court from the High Court of the Province of the Punjab declaring that a certain Measure passed previously in the Punjab was unconstitutional. The learned judge felt, and indeed justice required, that in the circumstances it was preferable that he should not sit on this appeal. It then emerged that the necessary provision of a supernumerary judge could not be made without an amendment of the India Act. This Bill, which had already been dealt with in another place, provides the necessary amendment. The House will see that Clause 1 (3) lays down: (3) If the Governor-General in his discretion is satisfied, after considering a report from the Chief Justice of India—

  1. (a)that in view of some personal interest which any judge of the Federal Court has in the decision of any particular case, or of some part which any judge of the Federal Court has already taken, as judge or counsel or otherwise, in or in relation to any particular case (whether or not while it was before the Federal Court), that judge ought not to take part in the hearing and determination thereof, and
  2. (b)that without that judge there are not sufficient judges of the Federal Court available to sit for that purpose,
the Governor-General may in his discretion appoint a judge of a High Court who is duly qualified for appointment as judge of the Federal Court …

Mr. Ammon (Camberwell, North)

There is evidently a difference in regard to these matters between India and this country, where I understand that when any judge is unable to sit on a given case another judge can take up his duties. I understand that the reason for this Bill is that that does not apply in India. This Bill is an amendment to the Act. Does it make provision only for this particular case, or does it make provision for any future contingencies?

Mr. Amery

It is an amendment to the Act covering a particular class of contingency, though it arose on a specific instance to which the attention of the Chief Justice and of the Governor-General has been drawn.

Mr. Ammon

If a similar case should again arise, provision is made to meet it without coming to this House?

Mr. Amery

indicated assent.

Question, "That the Bill be now read a Second time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for the next Sitting Day.—[Mr. Munro.]