The Supreme Court decided on Friday to examine a plea for setting up a national court of appeal with regional benches to enable the top court to exclusively deal with constitutional matters.
The benches at Chennai, Mumbai and Calcutta should be the last court for appeals – above the high courts -- and their decisions undisputable unless questions of law remain unanswered, Puducherry-based advocate Vasanta Kumar said in a public interest litigation.
There are nearly 60,000-odd cases pending in the top court due to appeals arising out of litigations in the high courts.
A bench headed by chief justice TS Thakur issued notice to the Centre and sought attorney general Mukul Rohatgi’s assistance on the petition.
The top court also asked two senior counsels – KK Venugopal and Salman Khursheed – to give their suggestions on the possibility of creating such benches and fixed March 16 for hearing the public interest litigation.
Kumar challenged the Union government’s December 3, 2014 order rejecting his representation to set up the national court of appeal. The Centre had rejected the appeal saying it would alter the structure of the Supreme Court.
Kumar said people go through difficulties, both physical and financial, because they have to travel to New Delhi to file appeals in the SC, stay in the national capital indefinitely, consult senior lawyers and pay for hotel bills.
“The geographical proximity and financial status of citizens in the society are vital factors for every citizen to have access to this court,” he said, citing reports to point out that the highest number of cases filed in the SC is from northern states.
Delhi tops the list with 12% of the cases followed by Punjab and Haryana (7%) and Uttarakhand (7%). Southern states stand much below in the list with Kerala accounting for 2.5% and Andhra Pradesh 2.8%.
The SC is the court of appeal for all the 24 HCs in the country. The Constitution permits litigants to approach the top court directly for relief and empowers the SC to exercise its jurisdiction on all matters arising from any judicial forum or tribunal.
Kumar said people move the top court for small issues such as a trial court order permitting a party to amend its application in a civil case or if a bail application is rejected.