SC needs permanent Constitution bench: Study

Only 0.12 per cent cases were disposed of in the last decade
Last Updated 20 February 2016, 19:18 IST

The adjudication of Constitution matters in the Supreme Court has been drastically reduced over the years as only 0.12 per cent such cases were disposed of in the last decade, making it imperative for the Chief Justice to set up an exclusive five-judge bench.

“In 2014, as per one study, only 7 per cent of the judgments delivered pertained to constitutional matters.

 The number of matters heard by constitutional benches (i.e. of five or more judges) has reduced from 15.5 per cent in the 1950s to 0.12 per cent in the first decade of the 21st century,” Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, an independent advisory group, noted.

In a study on “Towards An Efficient and Effective Supreme Court”, the group suggested for setting up permanent bench to deal exclusively with Constitutional issues.

“The Supreme Court of India is suffering from an overburdened docket, primarily attributable to the large volume of fresh appeals filings and special leave petitions.

Consequently, its role as the highest constitutional court of the country has diminished drastically, with constitutional matters now forming a negligible percentage of the total disposal rate of cases per year,” it said. In its recommendations for improvement in functioning of the apex court, the group said for reducing judicial backlog, the SC will still need greater judicial discipline in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.

 It also favoured setting up specialised benches to deal with matters of tax, services, criminal appeals and land cases.

“The ad-hoc appointment of retired judges will allow to set up specialised courts without diluting the present strength of justices of the Supreme Court. There will obviously be additional costs which must be accounted for by enhancing expenditure on the judiciary,” it said. The group also suggested for reforms in the form of judicial restrain in using its discretionary power on extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 136 to entertain special leave petitions.

The enhancement in use of Information, Communication and Technology and deciding of transfer petition by a single judge bench will also improve efficiency and reduce backlog, it added.

(Published 20 February 2016, 19:18 IST)

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