Fearing collapse under the burden of backlog of cases, the Supreme Court has finally woken up.
A bench headed by Justice Markandey Katju has questioned the decades-old practice of the apex court entertaining Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) against all kinds of judgments and orders of various judicial/quasi-judicial forums.
Article 136 of the Constitution gives discretionary powers to the SC to entertain SLPs against any orders passed by a court or a tribunal. But the provision does not prescribe any parameters for exercise of the discretion. Majority of the 55,791 cases pending in the SC at the end of 2009 were SLPs.
Maintaining that this power has to be used sparingly only in exceptional cases involving grave constitutional matters, serious miscarriage of justice and violation of fundamental rights, the bench referred the issue to a Constitution Bench to lay down proper guidelines for entertaining SLPs.
“The time has come when an authoritative decision by a Constitution Bench should lay down some broad guidelines as to when the discretion under Article 136…should be exercised…” the bench said.
“If SPLs are entertained against all and sundry kinds of orders...then this court after some time will collapse under its own burden,” it said.
The bench issued notices to the Bar Council of India, SC Bar Association, SC Advocates on Records Association and one Mathai, who had approached the SC against a Kerala HC order dismissing his plea for a second forensic examination of a disputed will. Now the CJI will set up the Constitution Bench.
On Tuesday (March 16) HT had reported that the backlog of cases in the SC has gone up 62 per cent in the last four years.
Maintaining that the SC was meant to deal with only important constitutional issues, it said: “Sadly the position today is that it is under such pressure…that judges do not get sufficient time to deliberate over the cases...and this is bound to affect the quality of our judgments.”