Constitution Bench to decide on National Court of Appeal

The Supreme Court, under the stewardship of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, has sent a clear signal to the government and lawmakers that it intends to push hard and pronounce a judgment on the constitutional viability of having an NCA.

A verdict in favour of NCA would act as a great influence on Parliament to amend the Constitution itself to make room for NCA.

Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi objected saying a National Court of Appeal is “neither permissible nor desirable”.

Chief Justice Thakur answered countered

  • How cases lie pending in an overburdened Supreme Court for eight to 10 years.
  • The Bench asked whether such delay was not a violation of a citizen’s fundamental right of ‘access to justice’ under the Constitution.

Amicus curiae and senior advocate K.K. Venugopal advised the court to seize the opportunity to regain its status as a constitutional court.

The Bench, also comprising Justice U.U. Lalit, asked amicus curiae Venugopal and Mr. Rohatgi to

prepare questions by April 4 for reference to a Constitution Bench to decide on, including whether a judicial decision on the NCA would affect the basic structure of the Constitution and amount to “tinkering” with it.

a tri-judge Bench would then refer it to the Constitution Bench, when the case would come up again.

The Supreme Court, Chief Justice Thakur Remarks

“mundane” matters from bail pleas to dishonoured cheques to traffic violations flood 98 percent of the work time of the Supreme Court judges are spent on dismissing these cases.

Chief Justice Thakur on establishment a National Court of Appeal

SC is unable to deal with all the cases and not here just to correct errors in judgments.

150 judges in the Supreme Court just to deal with the inflow of cases, all giving conflicting judgments?

The establishment of a National Court of Appeal We can enunciate something on the legal aspects,” Chief Justice Thakur asked.

An unconstructive aspect of NCA

  • National Court of Appeal will lead to amendment of various provisions in the Constitution.

The case of Ireland which enacted the law for NCA in 2013 after six years debate.

“State after State has amended its Constitution to usher in the NCA.

But here the Centre has to have a will.

Access to justice is proportionate to distance

  • Of 10 cases in the Supreme Court, 9.5 are from the Delhi High Court because of the proximity.
  • Kerala is only 2.5 out of 10,” the amicus submitted.

The NCA “in the middle between the High Courts and the SC is a dilution of the judiciary.”

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