Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, who is going to take oath as the 49th Chief Justice of India on August 27, 2022 assured that the Supreme Court will strive to have at least one Constitution Bench functioning throughout the year.
The Chief Justice-designate promised clarity and transparency in the urgent listing of cases in the apex court.
Justice Lalit said a clear-cut mechanism would be in place to allow lawyers to mention urgent matters, which includes bail petitions, etc., before the respective Benches for early listing. He said he has already discussed these three key issues with the Supreme Court Bar leaders.
The sweeping changes would help the judges identify, hear and provide relief in cases which need their urgent attention. It would also help litigants and lawyers to avoid delay in getting their cases listed for hearing before judges due to the long-winded processes of the Supreme Court Registry.
Mornings in the Supreme Court are witness to crowds of lawyers trying to convince judges to put up their cases for hearing. Often, many of these cases require urgent attention as they concern the right of personal liberty or property of common citizens.
Justice Lalit's initiative comes at a time when the Supreme Court's pendency has crossed over 71,000 from a little over 55,000 in 2017. This is despite the fact that the sanctioned judicial strength of the court was increased to 34 judges in August 2019. A steady rise in arrears regardless of the periodic increase in judicial strength has been a constant phenomenon since 1950.
The outgoing Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, on his last working day, apologised for not being able to list all the pending matters. Chief Justice Ramana said the court has been firefighting pendency, which rose alarmingly during the pandemic months.
“The only way out for this is to reform the functioning of the system. We need to deploy modern technological tools and Artificial Intelligence to find a lasting solution. Even though we tried developing some modules, because of compatibility and security issues, we could not make much progress. Due to COVID emergency, the priority was running the courts… Unfortunately, during the past 16 months of my tenure as CJI, full-fledged hearing was possible only for about 50 days,” Chief Justice Ramana told lawyers in the court on his last working day.