New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on referring to a five-judge Constitution bench the issue whether National Court of Appeal with four regional benches in South, East, West and North is feasible or not.
A three judge bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justices Ms R. Banumathi and Uday Lalit told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the matter will be referred to a five-judge bench, for which issues were submitted by amicus curiae K.K. Venugopal and Salman Khurshid.
The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by advocate V. Vasantha-kumar for setting up of a NCA and four regional benches. The A-G opposing any such move made it clear that setting up of NCA with four regional benches is neither feasible nor desirable.
The AG said the demand for four regional benches of the Supreme Court was considered by this court time and again and it was found not feasible as such benches will dilute the authority and jurisdiction of the apex court. The AG said to say that NCA will ensure speedy justice is not correct.
He said establishing NCA with regional benches will be violative of the principles of judicial review and violative of basic structure of the Constitution. Any amendment to Article 136 of the Constitution which is part of basic structure will be impermissible. He said the NCA cannot be seen from an isolated perspective of reducing the backlog of cases. Adding one more level of adjudication will not help in decreasing litigation as over a period of time appeals in NCA will again clog the system. The NCA will further add to the pendency and would be a boon only for advocates.
The CJI pointed out that one reason for increasing number of appeals filed in the Supreme Court is the government has provided for statutory appeals from orders of SEBI, Central Excise Tribunal etc. The CJI said let there be a discussion whether NCA is needed or not and asked the A-G why should the government feel shy for debating the issue. The AG said NCA will be a self-defeating exercise as it will not help in reducing the pendency, rather it will increase the number of cases. He suggested that the matter be referred to the Law Commission.