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Parliamentary Panel Recommends Setting Up Regional Benches of Supreme Court and Reducing Vacation to Enhance Justice Accessibility [Read Report]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      09 August, 2023 12:05 AM      0 Comments
Parliamentary Panel Recommends Setting Up Regional Benches of Supreme Court and Reducing Vacation to Enhance Justice Accessibility [Read Report]

NEW DELHI: A parliamentary panel on Monday favoured establishing regional benches of the Supreme Court, saying it is meant for taking justice to the doorstep of the common citizen.

"The Delhi-centric Supreme Court causes a big hurdle for those litigants who are coming from far-flung areas of the country. First, there is a language problem for them, and then finding lawyers, the cost of litigation, travel, and staying in Delhi makes justice very costly," it said.

In its 133 rd report on the subject 'judicial processes and reforms', the panel headed by BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi said this Committee has also been recommending for a long time on establishment of regional benches of the Supreme Court in the country.

"The Committee still holds the view that the Supreme Court of India may invoke Article 130 of the Constitution for establishing its regional benches at four or five locations in the Country. The interpretation of Constitution and Constitutional matters may be dealt at Delhi and the regional benches may decide appellate matters. However, the appellate benches may not be made as another layer of the judiciary by treating their decisions as final," it said.

"The regional benches may also be seen as a solution to the overflowing caseload of the  judiciary and to reduce the litigation cost to the common man," it added.

The panel also asked the Law Ministry to request Supreme Court to seek annual report regularly from all High Courts across the country.

The committee also sought more diversity in the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary so that adequate representation be provided to the marginalised sections including women and minorities, and asked govt to bring legislation to make it mandatory for the Higher judiciary to furnish property returns on an annual basis.

The report also expressed its concern over long vacation of the constitutional courts, saying that it is an “undeniable fact” that it is a ‘colonial legacy’.

It also stressed at the need for making it mandatory for judges to disclose their assets, saying it will bring more trust and credibility into the system.

The panel recommended the Department of Justice to approach the Supreme Court of India to issue necessary directions to all the High Courts to prepare and publish their Annual Reports regularly, on their respective websites.

"Annual Report is like an appraisal of what that institution has done over the past year. There is no harm if each Court also, at the beginning of every year, takes stock of work that it had transacted last year. After all, Courts are also public institutions, and the preparation and publication of the Annual Report will highlight the work of the Judiciary and make it accessible to the public," it said

The committee noted the Supreme Court is already publishing its Annual Report also depicting the work done by all High Courts of the Country.

It also highlighted that higher judiciary suffers from a 'diversity deficit'.

"The representation of SCs, STs, OBCs, Women, and Minorities in the higher judiciary is far below the desired levels," it said, adding Collegiums should recommend an adequate number of women and candidates from the marginalized sections of the society including minorities.

Among others, the panel also recommended for increasing the retirement age of SC and HC judges.

The committee also said that vacations in the judiciary are not the only factor for pendency. For reducing pendency there is a need to have a multipronged strategy.

However, at the same time, it is an undeniable fact that vacations in the judiciary are a 'colonial legacy' and with entire court going on vacation en mass causes deep inconvenience to the litigants.

"In this scenario, the committee is of the view that the suggestion of the former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha on court vacations, that instead of all the judges going on vacation, all at one time, individual judges should take their leave at different times through the year so that the courts are constantly open and there are always benches present to hear cases, should be considered by the judiciary," it said.

[Read Report]



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