Attorney General K K Venugopal suggests creation of court of appeals
Right to access of justice within reasonable cost and time is a fundamental right and a period of 30 years taken in disposal of a case till the apex court cannot be reasonable, Attorney General K K Venugopal said on Friday while advocating four courts of appeals in four parts of the country to relieve Supreme Court of its huge workload.
He opined that the apex court's current role should be overhauled and it should be made a purely Constitutional court hearing only cases involving issues of Constitutional interpretation.
The Attorney General, while speaking at the “Constitution Day” function organized by the Supreme Court, said four ''courts of appeal'' should be constituted to hear appeals from High Courts, tribunals, and other matters which are currently heard by the Supreme Court, adding that it would cut down the pendency of cases to a “great extent”. “I would envisage at least about four regions - the north, the south, the West, and the East, each having a court of appeal with 15 judges. Pendency would be reduced so that you will be able to get the cases disposed of within a period of three or four years,'' he said.
“Pendency in Supreme Court will reduce then. For Supreme Court, it will not need these 34 judges. 15 judges sitting in three constitution benches of five judges each will be enough. Judges will be able to hear patiently and write excellent judgments,'' the AG opined. Shedding light on the high pendency and time taken in disposal of cases, the top most law officer said it needed a “bold person” to file a case in the lower court as he or she may not enjoy the fruits of the litigation after 30 years and suggested that the judiciary and the executive should come together to address the issue rather brushing it under the carpet.
He spoke about the sufferings litigants go through when their cases are adjourned by six months. “We find that in the Supreme Court list, there are criminal cases pending from 2008, civil cases pending from 2009. This should mean that when finally justice is done, a total period of 30 years has elapsed,” Venugopal said at a function attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “It should be remembered that so far as the right to access to justice is concerned, it is a fundamental right, and being a fundamental right, it means that they should have access to justice at a reasonable cost and within a reasonable period of time. 30 years is not a reasonable period of time,” he said.
The top law officer compared this to the western apex courts where he claimed that the cases are disposed of within two years.
Venugopal added, ''One cannot allow today's situation to continue because we are not really doing justice. We are ignoring a fundamental right, perhaps violating the fundamental right by allowing the structure of courts to remain.” The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Vikas Singh, who was also part of the event, was of the view that the appointment of most meritorious people to the higher judiciary is the constitutional mandate as the judiciary plays an interface between the Constitution of India and the citizens. “I am of the opinion that a suitable legislation in the form of a Bill to regulate the Collegium system can be brought within the said limitation which will facilitate the appointment of judges to the High Courts as well as to the Supreme Court,” he said. Singh stated that the Bill should provide a Permanent Secretariat both at the High Court and Supreme Court level, to assist them in the matter of appointment of judges, adding that the members of the Collegiums both at the Supreme Court as well as the High Courts, being senior judges of their respective Court do not have enough spare time for this onerous responsibility. “The Collegium will determine the eligibility for appointment to the higher judiciary and the Secretariat would constantly update the list of persons who qualify as per the said eligibility,” he added. To bring in more transparency, the legislation can also provide for taking comments of two eminent Senior Advocates of the particular Court before considering any name for the appointment, the SCBA President said. Earlier today, while speaking at another function to Celebrate the Consitution Day, he had expressed concern over the rise in the number of MPs and MLAs charged with serious criminal cases which he claimed is 43 percent now as compared to 23 in 2004. `One very important change which is required is that lawbreakers should not be lawmakers, he said emphasizing that the statistics, unfortunately, prove otherwise.
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