The Supreme Court has consistently not agreed to proposals for setting up its benches outside Delhi, the Parliament was told on Thursday.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s response came on a question in the Lok Sabha by Telugu Desam Party member Kanakamedala Ravindra Kumar in connection with huge pendency of cases before the Supreme Court and various high courts. Kumar also sought to know whether the government has any proposal for setting up four regional appellate courts to reduce the pendency of cases in high courts and also the Supreme Court.
According to the Law Ministry, there are 69,855 cases pending in Supreme Court as on December 6, and 56,41,212 cases pending in various high courts as on December 10.
Rijiju, in a written response, said there have been demands, from time to time, to set up benches of the Supreme Court in different parts of the country. He added that as per Article 130 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in such other place or places as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the President, from time to time, appoint.
“The Supreme Court has consistently not agreed for setting up benches of the Supreme Court outside Delhi. The above recommendation of setting up of Benches was referred to the Chief Justice of India for consideration in 2007,” he said.
“The Chief Justice of India, in his letter dated August 12, 2007, informed that after consideration of the matter, the full Court, in its meeting held on August 7, 2007, found no justification for deviating from its earlier resolution on the subject and unanimously resolved that the recommendation made by the Committee cannot be accepted,” added the response.
The response cited that 229th Law Commission report suggesting that a constitutional bench be set up at Delhi and four cassation benches be set up in the Northern region at Delhi, the Southern region at Chennai/Hyderabad, the Eastern region at Kolkata, and the Western region at Mumbai.
“In this regard, the then Chief Justice of India informed that after consideration of the matter, the Full Court in its meeting held on February 18, 2010 found no justification for setting of Benches of the Supreme Court outside Delhi. There is a Writ Petition No. 36 of 2016 filed in the Supreme Court of India on the subject of establishment of National Court of Appeal and the matter is sub judice in the Court,” added the response.
Regarding High Courts, Rijiju added: “Requests for establishment of High Court Benches in places other than the Principal Seat of High Courts have been received from various organisations from time to time. However, at present there is no complete proposal pending with the Government.”
Recently, the government’s top law officer, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had said that there should be four appellate courts for hearing appeals which cannot be challenged further, and the Supreme Court should only hear constitutional matters.