Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Parliamentary Committee on Law and Justice has urged the Centre to amend the Constitution to provide for establishment of regional Benches of the Supreme Court.

In its 26th report submitted to Parliament on Tuesday, the committee said: “It has been recommending time and again the setting up of the Benches in far-flung areas with a view to providing justice to the poor.” The Supreme Court, however, found no justification for them.

In its report, the panel, headed by E.V. Sudarsana Natchiappan, said: “The committee, in its second, sixth, 15th and 20th reports, dealt with the issue and felt that establishment of the Benches in southern, western and northeastern parts would facilitate the litigants to avail themselves of justice from the apex court, without travelling to Delhi from faraway places.” The earlier committees recommended that the government decide on its course of action to resolve the matter expeditiously.

In its action taken report, the Centre told the present committee that the government had been pleading with the Supreme Court for its approval for the proposal, as it was mandatory under Article 130. (Article 130 says the Supreme Court sits in Delhi. It can, however, meet in any other place or places as the Chief Justice may decide with the President’s approval.)

It said a Full Court (comprising all judges including the Chief Justice) of the Supreme Court considered the subject matter and the judges were of the considered opinion that the demand could not be accepted. Initially, the Full Court rejected the demand in 1999 and reiterated the same view in 2001, 2004 and 2006.

On being asked whether the Ministry planned to introduce a Constitution amendment to address this problem, the reply was: “the government does not propose to bring in any amendment.”

The committee said: “It is not happy with the persistent opposition of the Supreme Court without giving any convincing reason or justification therefor. The committee, therefore, endorses its earlier view that establishment of Benches of the Supreme Court at least in Chennai on a trial basis and then in other parts of the country would be of immense help to the poor who cannot afford to travel from their places to Delhi.”