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Regional benches of the Supreme Court UPSC NOTE

 Establishing regional benches of the Supreme Court in India

  • There is a considerable backlog in the judicial system, with a staggering 80,000 cases awaiting resolution before the 34 judges of the Supreme Court. 

  • This backlog reflects a significant challenge that has prompted a recurrent call for structural reforms within the apex court. 

  • The sheer volume of pending cases not only highlights the strain on the existing judicial infrastructure but also underscores the need for a more efficient and streamlined legal process.

  • By examining the issue from the eyes of the common man, such benches are the need of the hour

  • People are less willing to accept arbitrary or unjust actions of the state and its agencies and are increasingly approaching courts of law

  • The outcome of such cases demands further adjudication by the Supreme Court

  • It becomes practically impossible for people living in States far away from Delhi to agitate their cause. 

  • It is easy to say that the presence of a litigant is not required in appellate forums but the reality is

Key arguments for regional benches

  • Last year, the Supreme Court witnessed a 31% increase in the disposal of cases compared to 2022. 

  • However, such a disposal rate is negligible when compared to the total pendency of cases

  • A little more than 80,000 cases are currently pending adjudication out of which 60,000 cases are civil. 

  • This cannot be alleviated only through usual methods and is highly dependent upon the efforts and efficiency of the Chief Justice

  • The establishment of regional benches will increase the number of judges as well as lawyers resulting in a much-needed boost to our judicial system.

  • A proposal recommended by the Law Commission of India in its 95th and 229th reports

  • A permanent appellate court along with several courts of cassation should be established

  • The permanent appellate court, like in the U.S., should include nine of the senior-most judges from the cassation courts. 

  • It should sit en banc and hear only constitutional cases while the cassation courts adjudicate upon appeals arising out of non-constitutional matters.

  • At present, the Supreme Court is overburdened with matters such as transfer petitions, arbitral appeals, etc

  • It has no business hearing. 

  • It would be appropriate that instead, a court of cassation hears such matters.

Key arguments against regional benches

  • The steps taken by the judiciary since the onset of the pandemic to switch to virtual hearings are laudable

  • Further, the Chief Justice has also indicated that all courts should shift to virtual hearings.

  • However, even today, in many forums such as the Central Administrative Tribunal and the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of India, virtual hearing facilities are not used. 

  • Many judges also prefer lawyers to be physically present

  • Therefore, I feel that a mechanism should be put in place that allows preliminary and admission hearings to take place virtually, while final hearings are conducted physically.

  • Hybrid hearings can be an effective alternative to regional benches

  • While the use of technology is good for judicial administration, court management, and handling the case flow.

  • It is not a viable solution for judicial adjudication.

  • The physical hearing of cases helps to maintain objectivity with regard to the propositions advanced before the court. 

  • Judges are human beings and suffer from several human limitations. 

  • Our open court system plays a vital role in ensuring that a judge maintains the appropriate attitude and demeanour. 

  • The presence of lawyers and litigants in a courtroom also helps a judge to work without any fear or favour. 

  • Therefore, virtual court facilities should be used only in exceptional circumstances.

  • Irrespective of the pendency rate, India should take inspiration from France and implement a system comprising a separate court of appeal and courts of cassation.

  • That every litigant wishes to visit his lawyer and witness court proceedings involving his case.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Regional benches of the Supreme Court UPSC NOTE
Regional benches of the Supreme Court UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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