A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy on Monday dismissed a petition for setting up of a separate bench at Chennai for easy accessibility of justice for citizens of the southern states.
The Bench however acknowledged the thought as a ‘progressive’ one.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by Advocate A.M. Krishna, who had sought the court’s direction to the Centre “to initiate immediate steps in setting up a Supreme Court bench at Chennai”.
The Petitioner had suggested that a remote bench be set up in Chennai that could have ruled over cases through video-conferencing and tablet computers.
The Petitioner placed reliance on reports of the Law Commission and Parliamentary standing committees which have favored setting of circuit benches. It reasoned that approaching Supreme Court was very expensive for litigants coming from distant places like Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Assam and other far-flung states.
“In view of the alarming escalation of transport fare, lodging expenses and in view of the geographical location of the seat of the apex court, it is hoped that the Supreme court will suggest ways and means for maintaining structural and financial integrity of the of the apex court even while setting up the southern, western and north-eastern benches,” it said.
“The access to justice has been recognized as one of the most important human rights, which is included in Article 39 (A) of the Constitution as a Directive Principle of the State Policy... today the Supreme Court is faced with the problem of work load.
“In a truly democratic country like ours, to solve the problems of arrears of cases pending in courts, the solution is not to deny justice to the people but to expand the judicial system in various ways so as to keep pace with the growth of litigation,” the petition said.
There have been similar demands in the past, with Mumbai lawyers demanding a Supreme Court Bench in Mumbai. You may read the LiveLaw story here.
In April this year, the Supreme Court (Establishment of a Permanent Bench at Kolkata) Bill, 2015 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill sought to establish a permanent Bench of the Supreme Court at Kolkata, as it would be “easily accessible for litigants of central, eastern, south-eastern and especially north-eastern States.” You may read the Bill and LiveLaw story here.