Bar Council heads of the southern States including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka have appealed to Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu, and the Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana to consider setting up the long pending demand of a Supreme Court bench in the south on Monday.
The delegation consisting of TS BC chairman A. Narasimha Reddy, AP BC chief G. Rama Rao, TN BC chief P.S. Amal Raj, Karnataka BC chief L. Srinivasa Babu, Kerala BC chief K.N Anil Kumar along with ex-MLC N. Ramchander Rao met both the dignitaries at Delhi where they presented a memorandum highlighting the need for such a step listing out the advantages. Pointing out that there were 65,000 cases pending in the SC, they argued for immediate reforms like establishing permanent regional centres of the Apex Court for the north, south, east and west at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai as it was the need of the hour to ensure accessible and speedy justice to the people. Over the decades, several standing committees of the Parliament, Law Commissions, Bar Councils and several others have made several representations in this regard. In fact, the Law Commission in 2009 recommended setting up of a Constitution Bench with seven judges in Delhi and four Cessation Benches in Chennai/Hyderabad, Mumbai and Kolkata with four to six judges each. These were to work as appellate courts arising out of orders of the SC.
Though this was rejected in 2010 by SC the time has come to revisit this, they asserted. They also stated that Article 130 of the Constitution empowers the CJ to constitute with the consent of the President these regional benches. It would not only allow common people who cannot afford to make trips to Delhi to appeal to the highest courts but will also open up opportunities for the legal fraternity besides helping in reducing the pendency of cases in the courts.
“The present system of working of the SC needs to be changed if the delayed justice notion is to be changed,” they said and claimed in a press release later in the evening that both the VP and CJ had “responded positively”.
Words of the former law minister; Ravi Shankar Prasad
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a letter to Rajya Sabha member and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) chief Vaiko, said that though the matter of setting up a Southern Bench of the Supreme Court of India is pending in the top court, the issue has so far not found favour. The letter, dated February 12, responded to a query raised by Mr. Vaiko in Parliament, in which he asked if a Bench of the Supreme Court of India can be set up in south India.
“As as you must be aware, according to Article 130 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in any other place or places as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the President of India, from time to time, appoint. Representations have been received at various times from various quarters for the establishment of Benches of the Supreme Court in various parts of the country,” Mr. Prasad said in his letter.