In a candid admission, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said on Friday that conflicting rulings by the top court was leading to confusion over the correct legal position on many issues.
“Today we have 26 judges in the Supreme Court and we have this problem. What will happen 50 years later when there are 100 judges?” CJI Thakur commented when a bench headed by him was informed how the top court had in the past given different kinds of interim orders on the issue of entry tax.
The CJI’s remarks came during the hearing of Public Sector Undertaking NALCO’s petition challenging the levy of entry tax and penalty imposed on it by the Orissa government.
Senior advocate Jagdeep Dhankar sought a stay for the PSU on the grounds that the top court had already granted relief to other private companies that moved the Supreme Court against the high court’s decision of upholding the state’s order on entry tax.
The bench learnt that the apex court had in certain cases asked the companies to deposit 33% tax and in some others 50%. Penalty in all cases had been stayed. To this, the bench said, “Too many judges give conflicting judgments. This creates a lot of confusion on what is actually the law. It’s a problem of plenty. The more judges we have, the more confusion. In a high court, the chief justice has to keep pictures of his brother judges and refers to them before giving an appointment.”
With regard to the case before it, the bench asked NALCO to pay 50% of the demand Orissa had raised and issued a stay order on the penalty slapped on it.