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Seat of Supreme Court and National Court of Appeal

Seat of Supreme Court: Constitution empowered the Chief Justice to hold sittings of the Supreme Court through Circuit Benches in places other than Delhi as well. However, despite an increasing caseload and repeated pleas by litigants and governments, successive Chief Justices have refused to invoke this constitutional power.

Analysis

  • Even at the time the Constitution was being debated by the Constituent Assembly, geographical access to the Supreme Court was flagged as a concern.
  • The B.R. Ambedkar-led Drafting Committee was nevertheless of the view that the Court must have a specified place of sitting and that litigants should “know where to go and whom to approach”.
  • Article 130 of the Constitution of India states, “The Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in such other place or places, as the chief justice of India may, with the approval of the president, from time to time”.
  • The Constitution declares Delhi as the seat of the Supreme Court.
  • A mere literal interpretation of Article 130 makes it clear that no constitutional amendment would be required in order to set up such benches.
  • It may also be noted that under Article 130, the Chief Justice of India acts as a persona designata and is not required to consult any other authority/person (no role of collegium or other SC judges). Only presidential approval is necessary.

What is a National Court of Appeal?

  • The National Court Appeal with regional benches in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata is meant to act as final court of justice in dealing with appeals from the decisions of the High Courts and tribunals within their region in civil, criminal, labour and revenue matters.
  • In such a scenario, Supreme Court of India situated in Delhi would only hear matters of constitutional law and public law.

 

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