Set up four Courts of Appeal, make SC constitutional court: AG

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 26

As the pendency of cases in the Supreme Court keeps rising, Attorney General KK Venugopal on Thursday suggested structural change in the Judiciary to set up four Courts of Appeal to hear appeals from the high courts and to make the top court a truly constitutional court.

“The Supreme Court is the apex court of the country and it should be dealing with only matters of national and constitutional importance,” Venugopal said in his Constitution Day address at a function organised by the Supreme Court. The Constitution should be amended for this purpose, he added.

The four Courts of Appeal with 15 Judges each sitting in four parts of India would reduce the burden of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General said in virtual presence of President Ram Nath Kovind, CJI SA Bobde, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, senior judges and bar members.

He pointed out that at present the Supreme Court was hearing 400 different categories of cases, including matrimonial matters, landlord-tenant disputes, bails, matters and land acquisition cases, which the apex court of other countries don’t even touch. Because of this, there were arrears even in criminal matters, he added.

“Now, we can start with a clean slate and the Supreme Court as the apex constitutional court of the country should be burdened with only constitutional cases. Then, as against the 75,000 cases at present, it would have to cater to only 2,000 to 3,000 cases per year,” Venugopal said.

He said similar system of Court of Appeal was already functional in 20 to 25 common law countries. “Such a Court of Appeal shall hear the matter finally and there should be no further appeal therefrom to the Supreme Court. The judges of the court of appeal shall be of the same calibre as Supreme Court judges and shall be selected in the same manner as the Supreme Court judges by the collegium,” the Attorney General said.

Citing a research done by a scholar from Yale University, he said the majority of cases filed in the Supreme Court came from the northern states, and Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and the other southern states accounted for only 1% to 2% of the litigation.

“This is on account of distance and the difficulty in engaging a counsel…so to ensure access of justice to all equally, it would be desirable to have four Benches of the Court of Appeal, with 15 judges each, sitting across the country,” Venugopal suggested.



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