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Pan-India Issue Does Not Mean High Courts Should Not Hear & Only Supreme Court Should Hear : SC In Agnipath Case

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
19 July 2022 9:17 AM GMT
Pan-India Issue Does Not Mean High Courts Should Not Hear & Only Supreme Court Should Hear : SC In Agnipath Case
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to transfer to itself the petitions filed in various High Courts and instead transferred the petitions filed before it to the Delhi High Court, where similar matters are pending.A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and AS Bopanna also said that the High Courts considering similar petitions should either give an option to...

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to transfer to itself the petitions filed in various High Courts and instead transferred the petitions filed before it to the Delhi High Court, where similar matters are pending.

A bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Surya Kant and AS Bopanna also said that the High Courts considering similar petitions should either give an option to the petitioners to either have their petitions transferred to the Delhi HC or to keep their petitions pending with liberty to petitioners to intervene in Delhi HC.

When the lawyers of the petitioners suggested that the matters be transferred to the Supreme Court from the High Courts, Justice Chandrachud orally remarked : "Why should we buck the remedy under 226 which the Constitution has so wisely conferred on the petitioners. Let us have the benefit of the judgment of the High Court, of that application of mind by our learned brothers in the High Court…A Pan-India problem merits the situation that different High Courts should not be hearing the issue and only one court should hear the issue. But pan-India does not mean that a High Court should not hear issue and the Supreme Court should hear it". 

The full court room exchange is given below :

At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pointed out, "There are several petitions filed in five or six High Courts"

Justice D. Y. Chandrachud: "Which are those High Courts?"
SG: "Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Patna. And one view was taken by the Kerala High Court that there is an alternative remedy of going before the AFT. I am not raising that ground, I am just informing here. So one matter is filed before AFT Kochi…The substantive challenges are- I have seen all the petitions…In the Delhi High Court, one of the petitions is filed by Mr Prashant Bhushan…There can be two options- first, I may file a transfer petition bringing all matters together but that might delay because then your lordships may have to issue notice to the petitioners and then they would have to be brought here. Second alternative is that your lordships may request the Delhi High Court in a time bound manner to decide the matter because we are appearing on caveat. We can file the pleadings and the matter can be decided. Your lordships can keep this pending and you will have the benefit of one view of the High Court and the other High Courts till then can wait for adjudication"
Justice Chandrachud: "We can also send these petitions to the Delhi High Court, because then we will have the benefit of the judgment of the High Court if there is a 226 before the Delhi High Court. We will say 'let these matters go to the Delhi High Court and converted into 226'. One more thing you would want to consider is that if you would like to file a transfer, so that we can bunch together all the petitions before one High Court. If we say other High Courts will not hear the matters in the meantime, those petitioners will lose the benefit of arguing before the Delhi High Court"
SG: "I can do that. But your lordships may consider that a similar situation happened when there was a challenge to the distribution guidelines of IOCL. There were several petitions, your lordships said the Delhi High Court will hear and those petitioners who are petitioners in other HCs can apply for intervention and argue the matter in the Delhi High Court. We can also file transfer petitions and get it transferred but inevitably that would take time"
Justice Chandrachud: "In the meantime, we can say that petitioners before different high courts would be at liberty to intervene. In the meantime, you can also file transfer petition so that we can ask dasti to be served through the lawyers appearing in the High Courts and listed after one week or two weeks and then transfer it"
SG: "I can file the transfer petition by tomorrow"
Justice Chandrachud: "We will list the transfer petitions on Friday and issue notice. Our only concern is that by asking them to intervene (before the Delhi HC), they should not feel that we are petitioners in our High Court and now we have lost our…We will give them the option. The idea is that they should be heard. If they are comfortable being interveners, it is fine"
The advocates for the petitioners urged that the instant issue is a pan-India problem, with petitioners from all over the country and that the Supreme Court may consider transferring the matters before the High Courts to itself for an expeditious disposal.
Justice Chandrachud: "We cannot stop others from filing other petitions before other High Courts or here. Once we have ordered transfer, we can refer the other petitions also. Then the Supreme Court has the benefit of the considered view of the High Court. Why should we buck the remedy under 226 which the Constitution has so wisely conferred on the petitioners. Let us have the benefit of the judgment of the High Court, of that application of mind by our learned brothers in the High Court…"
Justice Chandrachud: "A Pan-India problem merits the situation that different High Courts should not be hearing the issue and only one court should hear the issue. But pan-India does not mean that a High Court should not hear issue and the Supreme Court should hear it. Very often, we transfer matters from all the high courts to one High Court. For some matters, it is true that we have withdrawn the matters to ourselves but we lose the benefit of the view of the High Court in matters like this"
The bench then proceeded to dictate its order.

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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