Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quality going down, so create regional benches of Supreme Courts

In another post on topic of having regional supreme courts, I had mentioned the need to have benches of supreme courts in other states too so that highest court of justice can be available to more people.  This is especially important in a large country like India with a billion plus population.  Now it seems the Supreme Court has at least admitted that due to more workload the quality of their judgments is going down!


NEW DELHI: A concern expressed in hushed voices by senior lawyers for quite some time in the corridors of the apex court has become official. The Supreme Court has admitted that deluge of appeals is affecting the quality of its judgments, which are abided by all and sundry as the law of the land.

It does not want the apex court, set up to decide constitutional issues and inter-state disputes in addition to giving opinion to the President on tricky legal questions, to get reduced to just a final court of appeal being mired in the volumes.

To devise a way out of the jungle of files eating into judicial time and affecting the quality, a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and R M Lodha said the time has come for a constitution Bench to firmly lay down guidelines as to the categories of cases that the apex court should entertain rather than get engaged in deciding routine appeals or mundane issues.

It will be much better to create regional benches of Supreme Courts so that the workload can be shared across higher no of benches and judges who can be drawn from state.  Currently a Supreme Court judge has to be in Delhi since that is the only place which has SC.  Having regional benches will also allow more judges to be closer to their home state and will allow more and better judges to come into Supreme Court.

"However, sadly the position today is that it is under such pressure because of the immense volume of cases in the court that judges do not get sufficient time to deliberate over the cases, which they deserve, and this is bound to affect the quality of out judgments," the Bench said.

It issued notices to the SC Bar Association, Bar Council of India and the SC Advocates on Record Association to assist the constitution Bench in framing appropriate guidelines to limit the flooding of appeals.

This is another short sighted attempt, the kind which can happen only in India.  The lawyers are supposed to suggest reform and citizens who need justice are nowhere involved.  It just shows the high-handedness of the higher court judges towards general public.

With the computerisation of the Supreme Court registry and use of information technology in the docket management, the pendency of the cases in the 1990s was brought down from over one lakh to a manageable 20,000.

So if a good thing has worked in the past, what stops the Supreme Court from doing better things now?

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