Constitution bench to debate about National Court of Appeal
The Supreme Court decided to set up a five-judge Constitution Bench to debate the establishment of National Courts of Appeal. The bench led by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and advocate K.K. Venugopal to formulate questions for reference on April 4. While the AG was not in favor of forming the Court of Appeal, Mr. Venugopal argued for it.
What is the National Court of Appeal?
National Court of Appeals (NCA) calls for regional benches of the Supreme Court, in major cities, to decide appeals against High Court orders. It was first suggested by the SC in 1986 and later it was recommended by the law commission in 1998 and 2009. NCA can unburden the apex court which has a massive backlog of close to 60,000 pending cases.
SC admits plea for Court of Appeal
The Supreme Court of India admitted Chennai lawyer V. Vasanthakumar's petition for setting up a National Court of Appeal. NCA with regional benches in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata will act as final courts of justice within their region in civil, criminal, labour and revenue matters. The SC in such a scenario would only hear matters of Constitutional law and Public law.
Vasantha Kumar's previous attempt
In Feb 2014, Vasantha Kumar moved the SC with similar request, where the SC directed the Centre to hear him out through a judicial order on October 10, 2014. The Centre rejected his suggestion on the grounds that it would require an amendment to Article 130 of the Constitution.
Kumar's contention in the PIL
Vasantha Kumar's plea challenged the Union government's Dec 2014 order rejecting his representation to establish NCA. Kumar contended that SC's location in Delhi, coupled with high travel expense and cost of litigation were coming in way of citizens from far flung areas to approach the court. He referred to the statistics that most SC cases are from Northern states, and least from Southern states.
SC seeks Center's response on NCA
Supreme Court in Feb 2016, hearing the plea filed by Vasantha Kumar, sought response from the Centre and the Ministry of Law on the issue of establishment of a National Court of Appeal.