Report No. 229
IV. Conclusion and Recommendation
4.1 The concept of having a Constitution Bench along with a Cassation Bench is nothing new. The democratic transition that occurred in many parts of the world in the late 20th century resulted in the proliferation of courts with constitutional adjudication and powers of cassation being exercised simultaneously; there is a blend of functions of judicial review usually by the constitutional court or constitutional tribunal and also the exercise of powers of cassation.
Italy has a Constitutional Court with the sole power of constitutional review and a Supreme Court of Cassation with the power to review the decisions of the ordinary courts for consistency with the law. Egypt also maintains a Court of Cassation that monitors the uniformity of lower court fidelity to the law but only its Supreme Constitutional Court has the authority to declare laws unconstitutional and to determine and rule upon legislative intent.
Portugal's Constitutional Tribunal has the greatest jurisdiction exercising both concrete review of lower court decisions and abstract review of all laws and legal norms. Other countries which blend the functions of judicial review and cassation or the review of lower court decisions are Ireland, the United States and Denmark.
4.2 It is, therefore, recommended that:
(1) A Constitution Bench be set up at Delhi to deal with constitutional and other allied issues as aforesaid.
(2) Four Cassation Benches be set up in the Northern region/zone at Delhi, the Southern region/zone at Chennai/Hyderabad, the Eastern region/zone at Kolkata and the Western region/zone at 24Mumbai to deal with all appellate work arising out of the orders/judgments of the High Courts of the particular region.
(3) If it is found that article 130 of the Constitution cannot be stretched to make it possible to implement the above recommendations, Parliament should enact a suitable legislation/Constitutional amendment for this purpose.
4.3 We further recommend that with a view to reducing the heavy backlog of cases in the higher courts and meet the problem of finding suitable persons for appointment of judges in these courts, the retirement age for the Supreme Court and High Court Judges be raised to 70 and 65 years, respectively.