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Report No. 229

Constitution Bench at Delhi

3.3 The apex court would thus be relieved of the backlog of accumulated cases which are causing a burden and continuous strain on the resources of the apex court.

Since the accumulated cases pertaining to a particular region would be dealt with by the particular zonal bench, the apex court would be free to deal with only constitutional cases such as interpretation of the Constitution, matters of national importance such as references made by the zonal benches to larger benches due to conflict of authority or any other reason, cases where the interests of more than one State are involved such as interstate disputes on land, electricity, water, etc., references for advisory opinion made under article 143 of the Constitution, references made under article 317 of the Constitution, election petitions concerning Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections, suits between two or more States, etc. This list is merely illustrative and not exhaustive.

3.4 It is also suggested that all public interest litigations (PILs) from any part of India should be decided by the apex Constitution Bench so that there are no contradictory orders issued and also to arrest the mushrooming of cases increasingly.

3.5 The advantage of setting up of benches in the manner aforesaid is that this can be made effective without any delay since the constitution of benches is a matter within the purview and jurisdiction 1 of the Supreme Court itself under the Supreme Court Rules 1966.

1. Order VII, Supremem Court Rules, 1966.

3.6 Article 130 of the Constitution providing for the seat of the Supreme Court may now be noted, which is extracted below:

"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, appoint."

3.7 Article 130 is an enabling provision which empowers the Chief Justice of India, with the approval of the President, to appoint place or places other than Delhi as the seat of the Supreme Court. Article 130 cannot be construed as casting a mandatory obligation on the Chief Justice of India to appoint place or places other than Delhi as the seat of the Supreme Court. No court can give a direction either to the Chief Justice of India or the President to exercise the power under article 130.1

1. Union of India v. S.P. Anand, AIR 1998 SC 2615.

3.8 If article 130 is liberally interpreted, no constitutional amendment may be required for the purpose of setting up of Cassation Benches in four regions and a Constitution Bench at Delhi. Action by the Chief Justice of India with the President's approval may be enough. 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. Only Presidential approval is necessary. However, in case this liberal interpretation of article 130 is not feasible, suitable legislation/Constitutional amendment may be enacted to do the needful.

3.9 If the judge-strength of each zonal Cassation Bench is confined to six Judges, then only 24 Judges will be required for all the four zones to 7 Union of India v. S.P. Anand, AIR 1998 SC 2615 constitute Cassation Benches all over India. The other Judges will be available in the apex court, which will have a Constitution Bench at Delhi working on a regular basis.

Need for Division of the Supreme Court into a Constitution Bench at Delhi and Cassation Benches in four Regions at Delhi, Chennai or Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai Back

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