Taking note of a sharp increase in the filing of cases before the Supreme Court, a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur decided to deliberate upon a petition seeking setting up of a National Court of Appeal with regional benches in major cities.
The bench referred Tamil Nadu based advocate V Vasanthakumar’s plea to a constitution bench, noting the strength of judges was proving inadequate to deal with the backlog. The Centre’s contention to the petition was rejected.
The bench expressed concern over the large number of cases awaiting a finality in the SC and said the top court was never meant to be a regular court of appeal.
If set-up the National Courts of Appeal will hear cases arising out of the High Court judgements. In such a scenario the SC will be left with cases requiring a pronouncement on a question of law or a constitutional issue.
The CJI bench framed various issues for the constitution bench and recorded that statistics before it showed that over three-fourth of the total cases filed were dismissed at the admission stage.
The constitution bench will decide whether right to justice is denied if there is undue delay in diposal of cases in the SC and whether its division into regional benches will the an answer to the problem.
“Would the fact that the Supreme Court of India is situated in the far North, in Delhi, rendering travel from the southern states and some other states in India, unduly long and expensive, be a deterrent to real access to justice,” the bench said.