‘Now we Have VC Mechanism, Lawyers from All Over the Country can Address us’: SC Says on Plea Seeking Regional Benches


Prerna Gala

Published on: September 17, 2022 at 23:12 IST

On Friday, the Supreme Court stated that the issue of accessibility has now been resolved by the Video Conferencing mechanism in its decision on a petition seeking the operationalization of Article 130 of the Constitution of India, 1950 by establishing Regional Benches of the Supreme Court.

“Now we have video conferencing, a lawyer from anywhere in the country can address us”, the bench’s presiding Justice Chandrachud, made an oral observation.

General Secretary S.N. Shukla of the NGO Lok Prahari presented his arguments in support of the petition.

Justice DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli’s bench initially expressed reluctance to move forward with the case, stating that the creation of regional Supreme Court benches is a matter for the Chief Justice of India’s discretion and cannot be asserted as a matter of right in a writ petition brought under Article 32 of the Constitution.

“Mr. Shukla, what is your right under Article 130? It is for the CJI to decide”, the bench asked.

According to Article 130 of the Constitution, the Chief Justice of India may occasionally name another location or locations for the Supreme Court to hold its sessions, with the President’s agreement.

There have already been two Supreme Court opinions on the subject, according to Justice Chandrachud.

By informing the Bench that his proposal in his Public Interest Litigation is constitutionally permissible, it is simpler and easier to implement, Mr. Shukla defended his petition. He asserted that the Apex Court is currently hearing a petition with a similar claim.

According to Justice Chandrachud, the dispute in the ongoing matter has nothing to do with the demands made by Lok Prahari in the current petition.

“That is on different issue altogether. That is Court of Appeal.”

Justice Kohli’s opinion on the accessibility problem was as follows:

“We now have Counsels logging in from all parts of the country, from their offices and homes…”

The current petition was submitted in response to a 2009 Law Commission Report, but the Bench declined to consider it. It stated –

“You are relying on 229th Law Commission report which came out in 2009. 12 years later technology has changed.”

The petition seeking remedy for the Supreme Court’s separation into appellate and Constitutional divisions with regional benches for the former is the ongoing litigation that Mr. Shukla was referring to.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had referred the case to a Constitution Bench in 2016 after raising 11 legal questions.

When the case was scheduled to be heard by the Constitution Bench last month (in August 2022), Attorney General for India, Mr. K.K. Venugopal, asked for more time to receive guidance from the Centre.

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