Calcutta High Court has finally decided to dismiss the oldest pending case in India, the case of Berhampore Bank, which was filed way back in 1951.
Story Summary: The Calcutta High Court has resolved a case that had been pending for 72 years, the oldest in India’s history. The case, which was filed in 1951, pertained to the liquidation of the Berhampore Bank. Despite disposing of this case, the court still has two of the next five oldest pending cases in the country to deal with, both of which were filed in 1952. Two other cases are currently being heard in civil courts in Bengal’s Malda, and one is pending in the Madras high court. The case was found to have been disposed of in 2006 but was not updated in the records, causing it to remain on the pending list.
Kolkata: India’s oldest pending case, the Berhampore Bank case, has finally been disposed of by the Calcutta High Court (HC) after 72 years. The case, which was filed in 1951, pertained to liquidation proceedings of the now-defunct Berhampore Bank. Despite this significant milestone, the Calcutta High Court still has two of the country’s five oldest pending cases to deal with, both of which were filed in the year 1952.
As per the National Judicial Data Grid, the Berhampore case is The Oldest Case in any Indian Court until January 9, when the disposal order of September 19 was signed, sealed, and delivered. In 1948, the Calcutta HC ordered the Berhampore Bank to be wound up because it was insolvent and mired in litigation. It was filed in 1951 to challenge the liquidation proceedings and registered as “Case No. 71/1951“.
The bank had been embroiled in multiple litigations to recover money from debtors, with several of these debtors moving to court to challenge the bank’s claims. In accordance with records, the petition challenging the bank’s liquidation had been scheduled for hearing in the HC twice last September, but no one appeared at either hearing.
A report from the court’s liquidator was then requested by Justice Kapur. The assistant liquidator informed the bench on September 19, 2006, that the case had been disposed of in August a year earlier. In the end, it turned out that this information was not updated in the court records, resulting in the case remaining on the pending list indefinitely.
Of the two second oldest cases that are still pending in the HC, Justice Kapur had last heard one on August 23, 2022. He directed an advocate and a special officer to meet all parties and suggest modalities to bring the protracted litigation to an end. Unfortunately, there is very little data available on the other 1952 case.
It is important to note that the Berhampore Bank case is not an isolated incident, and India has a long history of pending lawsuits. The country’s judicial system has been criticized for its slow pace and the large backlog of pending cases. The Indian judiciary is currently facing a crisis of enormous pendency and an acute shortage of judges.
As of 2019, the number of pending cases in the Indian courts was around 3.5 crore. This is a cause of concern as it is not only causing delays in justice but also putting a strain on the resources of the judiciary.
The government has been making efforts to address this issue by implementing various measures such as setting up fast-track courts, increasing the number of judges, and introducing e-courts. However, more needs to be done to address the root cause of the problem, such as improving the functioning of lower courts, and addressing the shortage of infrastructure and manpower.
In conclusion, the Berhampore Bank case being disposed of after 72 years is a reminder of the need for swift and efficient justice delivery in India. The Indian judiciary needs to take urgent steps to address the pending cases and improve the functioning of the courts to ensure that cases are disposed of in a timely manner.
Furthermore, the government and the judiciary must work together to address the issues and ensure that justice is delivered to all citizens promptly and efficiently.