15 Sep 2023 8:18 AM GMT
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Friday (September 15) expressed his strong disapproval of an advocate's email which stated that the Supreme Court should hear ordinary cases instead of Constitutional cases. CJI DY Chandrachud was referring to an email sent by Advocate Mathews J. Nedumpara expressing his view that the Supreme Court should prioritize hearing non-Constitution bench...
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud on Friday (September 15) expressed his strong disapproval of an advocate's email which stated that the Supreme Court should hear ordinary cases instead of Constitutional cases.
CJI DY Chandrachud was referring to an email sent by Advocate Mathews J. Nedumpara expressing his view that the Supreme Court should prioritize hearing non-Constitution bench matters over the Constitution bench matters, which he referred to as "useless".
The exchange took place when Advocate Nedumpara appeared before a bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra in a matter. When the hearing was over and Nedumpara was about to leave, CJI said :
"Mr Nedumpara, my Secretary General placed the email by you complaining that the Supreme Court should not be hearing Constitution bench matters because these are useless matters and the Supreme Court should be hearing non-Constitution bench matters."
Nedumpara owned up to the email and asserted that the Supreme Court should be hearing "ordinary people's cases".
The Chief Justice responded to this by stating–
"I just wanted to tell you that you don't seem to know what Constitution Bench matters are. You seem to be in ignorance of what Constitution bench matters are."
He then spoke about the importance of Constitution Bench matters. He stressed that these cases often involve the interpretation of the Constitution, which forms the foundation of the legal framework in India. The CJI stated, "You may think that Article 370 – that petition is not relevant. I don't think that that is what is the government or the petitioners in that case feel."
The CJI went on to explain that Constitution Bench matters go beyond constitutional interpretations, citing an example of a recent case concerning the livelihood of drivers across the country. He stated that these cases have a profound impact on the social sector and the livelihoods of numerous individuals. Here, he was referring to the Light Motor Vehicle Driving License issue, which was considered by a Constitution Bench day before yesterday. The issue before the Constitution Bench was whether a person holding a driving licence in respect of a “light motor vehicle”, could on the strength of that licence, be entitled to drive a “transport vehicle of light motor vehicle class” having unladen weight not exceeding 7500 kg. Deferring the hearing on the issue, the Constitution Bench had urged the Union Government to consider if the matter could be resolved through amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 and policy changes.
In this context, the CJI remarked–
"All Constitution bench matters or not necessarily interpretations of the Constitution. If you came and sat in our court day before yesterday you would find that we were dealing with the matter which concerned the livelihood of hundreds and thousands of drivers all across the country. The issue was whether a person who holds license to drive a light motor vehicle can drive a commercial vehicle."
He then urged Nedumpara to disabuse his mind that the Supreme Court was "only dealing with some fancy Constitution bench matters which have no bearing on the lives of ordinary people."
Referring to the light motor vehicle case, he added–
"We, in fact, we have passed a very detailed order asking the Attorney General to take instructions saying that this will have a very big impact on the social sector, which means that the livelihood of large number of small drivers would be affected. So please disabuse your mind."
Nedumpara maintained his stance and said–
"I am not against the court hearing matters involving the fundamental rights of people. I am only against this court hearing matters of public interest behind the back of the people. I am against matter is being heard on public policy without hearing the public at large. When your lordship passes an order, I am not here, the public is not here."
"Even there you are wrong. In the Article 370 matter, we had groups of individual interveners who came and addressed us from the valley. So we have been hearing the voice of the nation."
It may be noted that the Supreme Court on September 5 had reserved its judgment in the Article 370 matter after hearing the case for 16 extensive days.