Set up four courts of appeal, make SC constitutional court: KK Venugopal

KK Venugopal proposed four benches of Court of Appeal — north, south, east and west — having 15 judges each having same calibre as judges of the Supreme Court.
Attorney General KK Venugopal Thursday said that the need of the hour is to set up a National Court of Appeal, which can have four benches with 15 judges each.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Attorney General KK Venugopal Thursday said that the need of the hour is to set up a National Court of Appeal, which can have four benches with 15 judges each.(Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Published on Nov 27, 2020 04:32 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAbraham Thomas

Anticipating a pendency of cases when courts restart operations in full swing after the Covid-19 pandemic, Attorney General KK Venugopal Thursday said that the need of the hour is to set up a National Court of Appeal, which can have four benches with 15 judges each — who will be at par with Supreme Court judges and can decide all appeals arising from high courts, leaving only issues of national and constitutional importance to be decided by the apex court.

Speaking on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution at an online event organised by the Supreme Court — with President Ram Nath Kovind, Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde and Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in attendance — the top law officer said: “At present, the Supreme Court is hearing close to 400 categories of cases related to matrimonial disputes, bail petitions, land acquisition matters and so on, when the Supreme Court is supposed to be the constitutional court dealing with issues of national importance. The Supreme Court must regain its stature. This does not mean cases should end at the level of High Court. A Court of Appeal is to be constituted between apex court and High Courts that can give finality to all appeals.”

Venugopal proposed four benches of Court of Appeal — north, south, east and west — having 15 judges each having same calibre as judges of the Supreme Court. He cited a Yale University research that most cases filed in Supreme Court are from north India. “This will require a constitutional amendment. This will leave Supreme Court with a pendency of only 2,000-3,000 cases a year as compared to present figure of 60-70,000. It will allow top court judges more time to patiently read and write judgments, as currently they sit till midnight reading case files listed for next day,” Venugopal said.

CJI Bobde, in his speech on the occasion of the Constitution Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Constitution in 1949, acknowledged that huge pendency will arise when the pandemic ceases, but he felt that the judiciary displayed resilience in the face of the crisis as the Supreme Court did not lock down even for a single day.

Speaking at another event by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), CJI Bobde said: “The biggest and the highest challenge the courts faced was delivery of unhampered justice in the midst of lockdown as it gives a sense of security and well-being to citizens…Closing physical hearing in courts was the first step, as otherwise the disease would have spread like wildfire.”

President Kovind, who presided over the event by the Supreme Court, said: “Justice can be secured to the extent it can be accessed. Access to justice has two major hurdles – cost of litigation and language.” He reiterated his passion for rendering pro bono (without cost) services to poor litigants.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad complimented the judiciary for administering justice despite all the odds and said the judiciary’s biggest asset was public trust.

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Sunday, December 05, 2021