Can filing of routine appeals not stop, SC asks law panel

Seeks law panel report on barring unimportant pleas.

“No other Supreme Court presents such an undignified sight,” the Supreme Court quoted former Solicitor-General T.R. Andhyarujina in a judgment to describe its chagrin at its crowded courtrooms and corridors besieged by private litigants and cash-rich companies who file routine appeals, thwarting the highest court’s objective to decide cases of national interest. It endorsed the view that “the Supreme Court of India must cease to be a mere court of appeal to litigants and a daily mentor of the Government...”

Justices Anil R. Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the Law Commission of India to file a report within a year on whether it is permissible to stop the filing of all appeals which are not of national and public importance.

The judgment, authored by Justice Goel, was pronounced on August 9. It also wanted the Commission to consider the “desirability” of laws that allow parties, including the government, to file appeals against tribunal orders in the Supreme Court bypassing the High Courts.

It ordered the Centre to file an Action Taken Report on the Law Commission’s recommendations and said a three-judge Bench would hear the Centre in November 2017.

This judgment follows >Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur’s emotional appeal in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the work burden of judges has become humanly unbearable.

The Supreme Court is also hearing a >petition filed by Tamil Nadu-based advocate V. Vasanthakumar for setting up National Courts of Appeal with regional benches to hear civil and criminal appeals.

‘SC thwarted in its constitutional objective’

Justices Dave and Goel felt the apex court was being prevented from fulfilling its constitutional objective.

Justice Goel acknowledged that the rush of humdrum commercial and private appeals had thwarted the Supreme Court’s constitutional objective to hear matters of only national and public interest.

Even an increase in the sanctioned strength of Supreme Court judges to 31 has not helped because they are busy hearing routine cases at the cost of pending constitutional matters.

The judgment endorsed former Solicitor-General T.R. Andhyarujina’s view that the Supreme Court started losing its character after 1990, when it began entertaining cases of all kinds.

The verdict refers to a speech by a fellow sitting Supreme Court judge, Justice J. Chelameswar, in 2014 about the decline in the stature of a Supreme Court inundated by routine appeals.

Justice Chelameswar had spoken about how parties ignore the fact that a certificate of the High Court is required to appeal to the Supreme Court. Only in exceptional circumstances would the Supreme Court admit a case without the High Court’s certificate. “The exception has become the rule now. The result is more and more unsuccessful people are encouraged to have another go at it by approaching the Supreme Court,” the judgment quoted Justice Chelameswar.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 5:15:04 AM |

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