Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia's fiat to lawyers that he would not permit ‘oral mentioning' in the Supreme Court at 10.30 a.m. before the commencement of proceedings, has evoked mixed reaction from the members of the Bar.
Justice Kapadia on his first day as CJI on Wednesday told lawyers that mentioning matter would have to be submitted to the Registrar who would decide the case for the next day for inclusion in the mention list.
While some lawyers felt that the old practice should be continued, others felt the new system was worth a try.
Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal said: “Justice Kapadia has laid down a procedure and has institutionalised it. Instead of the court looking at the matter, the Registrar will look into the matter and decide on the basis of urgency. Under the earlier system lawyers used to crowd the court and it became impossible to even enter the court hall. I think by this new procedure a lot of court time is saved. It is good enough if the Registrar is able to decide and post matters on the same day in certain cases.”
Welcoming the new measure, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati said: “Mentioning has not been completely taken away. Mentioning was done more because of the default of the lawyers and it was taking much of the court's time. It will now be structured and done in a more disciplined way.”
According to senior advocate P.P. Rao, “There is nothing wrong in adopting a new system. It is premature to make any adverse comment.”
President of the All India Bar Association Adish C. Aggarwala said it would benefit everyone. “Earlier only well established and senior advocates were benefited under the oral mention procedure. Now everyone including young lawyers will be benefited as they will have to go through the Registrar for getting their matter included in the ‘mention list.'
However, senior advocate K. Subramanian felt it was convenient to adhere to a practice. “The practice of oral mentioning of urgent matter is in vogue for over 30 years.” He quoted a Supreme Court judgment which said, “the practice of the court is the law of the court. Where a practice has existed it is convenient to adhere to it because it is the practice. The power of each court over its own process is unlimited.”
He expressed the hope that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) would take up the issue with the CJI.
Former SCBA president M.N. Krishnamani said the practice should not be stopped altogether. In certain cases like habeas corpus, where the liberty of an individual was involved, oral mentioning must be permitted and cases would have to be heard the same day.
“In the High Courts cases are listed for hearing within a day or two. If such a system is followed in the Supreme Court, there is no need for mentioning. Since it takes at least 10 to 15 days for getting the cases listed for hearing, mentioning becomes necessary. The Bar must take up the matter with the CJI to permit mentioning in select cases.”
SCBA treasurer K.K. Mani said mentioning in certain cases was inevitable and it should be permitted.