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Attorney General Suggests Four Benches Of Court Of Appeal With 15 Judges Each Across Country To Reduce Supreme Court's Burden

Mehal Jain
26 Nov 2020 2:48 PM GMT
Attorney General Suggests Four Benches Of Court Of Appeal With 15 Judges Each Across Country To Reduce Supreme Courts Burden
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Speaking at the Constitution Day function organised by the Supreme Court, AG K. K. Venugopal has suggested to create four benches Of Court Of Appeal with 15 Judges each sitting across the country to reduce the burden of Supreme Court "The Supreme Court is the apex court of the country and it should be dealing with only matters of national and constitutional importance. However, at present...

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Speaking at the Constitution Day function organised by the Supreme Court, AG K. K. Venugopal has suggested to create four benches Of Court Of Appeal with 15 Judges each sitting across the country to reduce the burden of Supreme Court 

"The Supreme Court is the apex court of the country and it should be dealing with only matters of national and constitutional importance. However, at present we see the Supreme Court hearing matrimonial, rent control, landlord and tenant disputes, bails, matters of land acquisition, etc. There are 400 different categories of cases which the apex court of other countries don't even touch for they have attained finality at the level of the lower courts. Owing to this, there are arrears of even criminal cases! Now, we can start with a clean slate and the Supreme Court as the apex Constitutional court of the country should be burdened with only constitutional cases. Then, as against the 75,000 cases at present, it would have to cater to only 2000 to 3000 cases per year", he explained.

"This doesn't mean that the adjudication would end with the High Court. That cannot be because several High Courts have not been very consistent with the decisions...I am suggesting an intermediate Court of Appeal, as is the provision in 20 to 25 common law countries. Such a Court of Appeal shall hear the matter finally and there should be no further appeal therefrom to the Supreme Court. The judges of the court of appeal shall be of the same calibre as Supreme Court judges and shall be selected in the same manner as the Supreme Court judges by the collegium", he elaborated.

"This will ensure that the new Supreme Court can hear cases patiently and read and write judgements in peace. At present, the judges are reading briefs until midnight and are straining themselves far more than what a judge should. Of course, a constitutional amendment is needed for this", said the AG.

"A research scholar from Yale has depicted that the majority of the cases to the Supreme Court come from the northern states, and Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and the other southern states account for only 1 to 2% of the litigation. This is on account of distance and the difficulty in engaging a counsel...so to ensure access of justice to all equally, it would be desirable to have four benches of the Court of Appeal, with 15 judges each, sitting across the country", suggested the AG.

He quoted Dean Roscoe Pound, in as much as the American legal scholar had articulated that "We may look forward confidently to deliverance from the sporting theory of justice, we may look forward to a near future when our courts will be swift and certain agents of justice, whose decisions will be acquiesced in and respected by all". "Our courts are not swift", commented the AG.

In as much as Martin Luther King had said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere", the AG remarked that if one has to wait for 30 years to have their case disposed off, for the middle class and the lower middle class, justice shall continue to be a distant dream. "The corporates can afford the litigation and to wait for the outcome and can reach the Supreme Court conveniently...the justice delivery system must be such which can wipe every tear from every eye", he concluded.

On Virtual Courts

AG has congratulated the Gujarat High Court on its endeavour towards streaming its proceedings live on YouTube.

"The Gujarat High Court, in addition to videoconferencing, has also introduced live streaming of the arguments. I saw the Chief Justice's Court and observed how extremely competent the lawyers are, how they maintain a balanced tone of voice, how they don't raise their voice or shout, which was refreshing to see", he remarked.
"The Supreme Court of England and Wales also has live streaming. This ensures that the entire world can witness the proceedings of the court", he added.
"I can envision that every single subordinate court, every single High Court will have virtual hearings by video conferencing and live streaming of proceedings one day", he expressed.
"The prevailing crisis because of Covid has impacted the normal functioning of each of the three organs of the State. However, the justice delivery system has not allowed itself to be beaten by the pandemic and has quickly adapted to the environment to ensure that the doors of justice remain open. Physical appearance before the court is a problem because lawyers can't stand next to each other and arguing with masks is also not easy. So the judiciary has innovated and employed the alternative of virtual hearing via video conferencing which has worked extremely well so far. The Supreme Court has disposed off 30 lakh cases which is a superb record for itself", commended the AG.
"This is not something to be stopped post the Covid pandemic, but it should become the new norm for the future to come. The pandemic has taught us the use of video conferencing. Now, for procuring instructions from officers of the government, I use video conferencing which is the same as sitting across the table. This should be the permanent manner for courts to function in India", he said.
Next, the AG recommended the amendment of the Constitution to introduce a Court of Appeal, to hear appeals from the High Courts and relieve the Supreme Court of this burden.


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