‘Supreme Court located too far North for litigants from South’

Amicus refers this point to Constitution Bench in National Courts of Appeal case

April 15, 2016 05:18 am | Updated December 15, 2016 04:40 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court is situated in the “far North” in Delhi, and litigants from the southern States find it unduly long and expensive to come here in search of justice.

This was one of the 11 reasons the Supreme Court’s amicus curiae and senior advocate K.K. Venugopal cited for a Constitution Bench to decide in the upcoming historic debate on whether National Courts of Appeal should be established in the four corners of the country through an amendment to the Constitution.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur on Wednesday said the issues for reference would be finalised and referred to a Constitution Bench on April 25.

“Isn’t access to justice a fundamental right for all? Does this mean access to justice has become an illusion for people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu?” CJI Thakur had asked.

No suggestions from Centre

The Centre, represented by Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, however, had no suggestions to offer, yet. Mr. Rohatgi, who was asked by the court in the previous hearing on March 15 to join Mr. Venugopal to formulate issues for reference to the Constitution Bench, came unprepared. He complained that he had not got any substantial papers or documents from Mr. Venugopal’s side.

Mr. Rohatgi had conveyed in the last hearing that a National Court of Appeal was “neither permissible nor desirable.”

Mr. Venugopal had, however, contradicted Mr. Rohatgi and advised the Chief Justice’s Bench to seize the opportunity to reclaim the Supreme Court’s status as a constitutional court.

In his questions meant for the Constitution Bench, Mr. Venugopal asked whether four regional Courts of Appeals, with 15 judges elevated or appointed by the Supreme Court collegium, would satisfy the requirement for access to justice to all litigants from every part of the country.

He pointed out that cases had been pending in the Supreme Court for about five years, in the High Courts for about eight years and in trial courts for about five to eight years.

The Supreme Court’s push for establishment of National Courts of Appeal came on a petition filed by Chennai-based lawyer V. Vasanthakumar.

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