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Centre Has Duty To Create Additional Courts For Better Administration Of Laws Made By Parliament : SC Expresses Prima Facie View

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
3 March 2021 10:06 AM GMT
Centre Has Duty To Create Additional Courts For Better Administration Of Laws Made By Parliament : SC Expresses Prima Facie View
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed a prima facie view that the Union Government has a duty to create additional courts for the better administration of the laws made by the Parliament.A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat observed that the power under Article 247 of the Constitution is "coupled with a duty" on the part of...

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed a prima facie view that the Union Government has a duty to create additional courts for the better administration of the laws made by the Parliament.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat observed that the power under Article 247 of the Constitution is "coupled with a duty" on the part of the Central Government to establish additional courts.

Article 247 of the Constitution speaks of the power of the Parliament to provide for the establishment of certain additional courts in respect of matters under the Union List.

The bench made this significant observation while considering the suo moto case taken to evolve measures to expedite trial of cheque bounce cases under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act(In Re Expeditious Trial of Cases Under Section 138 of the N.I Act).

The bench noted that cheque dishonour contributes to nearly 30% of the pending cases at trial stage.

Last week, the Court had sought the views of the Central Government regarding the creation of additional courts. In response, a note was submitted by Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee with certain alternate suggestions of the Union Ministry of Finance. However, the bench opined that the suggestions of the Ministry are "inadequate".

The order passed by the bench reads as follows :

"At the hearing of this matter, we had suggested that the Union of India may provide for establishment of additional courts for the better administration of  the Negotiable Instruments Act. Article 247 reads as follows : "Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, Parliament may by law provide for the establishment of any additional courts for the better administration of laws made by Parliament or of any existing laws with respect to a matter enumerated in the Union List"

Prima facie we are of the view that the Article confers a power coupled with a duty on the Union to establish additional courts for the better administration of laws made by the Parliament. There is no doubt or dispute about the fact that matters under NI Act have posed what by now has become an intractable problem and accounts for close to 30-40 per cent of pendency in trial courts and very high percentage in High Courts also. ASG Sri Vikramjit Banerjee however submitted that the Ministry of Finance has suggested that instead of setting up additional special courts certain measures specified by them(in their Office Memorandum) be implemented. It is not necessary to reproduce or analyse the impact of measure suggested by the Union. Suffice to say, having gone through the measures, and having heard the learned counsel on the said measures, we find that the measures, to say the least, are inadequate for the purpose".

Though the ASG requested the bench to remove from the order the observation regarding the duty of the Union Government to establish additional courts, the bench refused.

"It is only a prima facie view which is not causing any prejudice", the CJI replied.

The Additional Solicitor General also submitted that "wide-range consultations with different stake-holders" might be needed to address the problem of huge arrears of cheque dishonour cases.

Taking note of this submission, the bench said that it will constitute a committee comprising Secretaries of different Ministries to study the issue. The proposed committee will be headed by a retired judge who has vast experience in trial matters.

The bench asked the ASG to suggest names of persons who can be included in the Committee. The bench also sought the presence of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta tomorrow, when the matter will be considered next.

The bench also had brief discussions with Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, amicus curiae appointed in the matter, and Advocate MR Ramesh Babu, the counsel representing the Reserve Bank of India, on whether the contact details of the drawer of the cheque can be provided in the dishonour slip to facilitate speedier service of notice.

The RBI's counsel expressed that it might lead to practical problems, as the presenting bank may not have the contact details of the drawer of the cheque. There are also concerns of privacy of the account-holder, the counsel submitted.

The bench has posted the matter tomorrow for further deliberations. The CJI also indicated that the matter will be considered by a larger bench comprising 5-judges tomorrow.

Click here to read/download the order






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