CJI Against Regional SC Benches

New Delhi
CJI Against Regional SC Benches
Rejecting Law Commission's recommendation for setting up of four Supreme Court regional benches, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan today said he did not favour the "disintegration" of the apex court.

"I am not in favour of the disintegration of the Supreme Court. Personally I feel the Supreme Court cannot be in any other part of India. This is the highest court of the land. It is in the capital city of the land," he said.

The CJI said, "It is a final court and we should maintain the integrity of the Supreme Court."

The Law Commission had last year suggested division of the Supreme Court into a Constitution bench at Delhi and regional benches in Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

The CJI said that there is nothing wrong in restructuring of the Supreme Court but it cannot be disintegrated.

Speaking at the R K Jain memorial foundation lecture here, he said that the filing of cases in the apex court is increasing at a phenomenal rate. There are at present over 50,000 cases pending in the apex court.

At present there are 26 judges in the Supreme Court against the sanctioned strength of 31.

The Law Ministry had sought opinion of Attorney General G E Vahanvati who also was not in favor of regional benches of the apex court.

Balakrishnan, who said the rate of filing in the apex court increased by 10 to 12 per cent annually, was of the view that with this rate would reach up to 1.25 lakh to 1.50 lakh cases yearly.

"It is not possible for the Supreme Court to handle that much of cases and it is also not possible to increase the strength of the judges in the Supreme Court. As a national court I still feel that 31 (total sanctioned strength of judges in the Supreme Court) is slightly higher in number," he said.

Acknowledging there were "some real problems" in the apex court, Balakrishnan, however, said there was no possibility of reducing the jurisdiction of the apex court or to increase the number of judges.

"We don't agree to increase the number of judges anymore and it is also not possible to reduce the jurisdiction," he said and cited examples of the US and the UK and other countries where the highest courts have only 10 to 15 judges.

However, he agreed with the idea of senior advocate K K Venugopal, that in between the apex court and high courts there should be court of appeals.

Before Balakrishnan, senior advocate Abhishekh Manu Singhvi, also disagreed with the Law Commission recommendation for setting up regional benches in the four metros.
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