§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA AND BURMA (THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE)
My Lords, I can explain the necessity for this Bill in a very few sentences. The position is that there is an appeal case pending in the Federal Court of India. One of the three Judges who composed this Court is himself a party, not to this particular case but to a similar case which is also pending in the Revenue Court of the Punjab, the decision on which will depend on this case. The Judge, therefore, feels himself precluded from taking part in hearing this appeal, and the Chief Justice of India agrees with his view. Section 214 (2) of the Government of India Act provides that not less than three Judges shall sit to decide a case of this nature. Three Judges are the present strength of the Court, and, as one of them is precluded from sitting, the necessity arises that the panel of Judges of the Federal Court shall be enlarged temporarily for the hearing of this appeal. The Government of India have powers under Section 202 of the Government of India Act to make an acting appointment when one of the Judges is unable for whatever reason to perform the duties of his office; but I am advised that these powers must be held to apply to inability to perform duties at large, and not in a particular case. I shall not weary your Lordships by reading the subsection in question, but it makes it quite clear that that applies to a general disability, and not to a particular disability, as in this case. The only possible solution therefore for this difficulty is to amend the Government of India Act so as to enable a Judge to be appointed temporarily for the hearing of this appeal.
The only criticism I can imagine of this Bill is that some of your Lordships may think it possibly rather a ponderous 286 and unwieldy method of dealing with a purely temporary and probably unique difficulty; but I can assure your Lordships that the matter has been most carefully investigated and that there is no alternative to the method proposed. The case is set down for hearing—or was set down for hearing—during this month, and it is most undesirable that it should be delayed longer than is avoidable. The Government of India are therefore most anxious to secure early legislation, and I hope that your Lordships will give the Bill a Second Reading forthwith. I shall have an Amendment—a not very important amendment—to move on the Committee stage, but for the moment I beg to move that the Bill be read a second time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(The Duke of Devonshire).
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.