On Sunday, January 24, 2021, the five State Bar Councils i.e., Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala have unanimously demanded a Supreme Court Bench in South India.
This demand has arisen on account of accessibility and costs incurred by the litigant to access the Hon’ble Supreme Court, which is currently situated at Delhi.
Recently, in November 2020, the Attorney General of India, Shri K. K. Venugopal had proposed the idea of four benches of Court of Appeal i.e., North, East, West and South. Each of these Courts will have 15 judges with the same as judges of the Supreme Court. He further stated that the same would require a Constitutional amendment.
It is pertinent to acknowledge that Dr. K. Shivaram, Senior Advocate during his tenure as the National President of the All India Federation of tax Practitioners (AIFTP) had made a similar suggestion to constitute four benches of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Further, the Bar Council of Maharashtra & Goa vide letter dated April 11, 2000 also endorsed the view of the Federation.
Further, in January 2013, AIFTP, as an alternative, proposed the idea of E-Benches of the Hon’ble Supreme Court at various High Courts to adjudicate upon Special Leave Petitions. This idea was reiterated and appealed to the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi in 2019 as a measure for ‘New India Vision & Road Map’.
As the English proverb goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”. The Nation-wide lockdown on account of the pandemic has remoulded our idea of access to justice. With some hiccups at the initial stages, the virtual Courts have delivered justice during the difficult times.
At this stage with alternative proposals in hand, certain measures should be adopted for speedy and cost-effective justice to the common man. It is rather unfair for a litigant to bear the transport, accommodation and legal fee (including whims and fancies) to procure justice.
A positive change is sincerely hoped for.