Supreme Court: Current Scenario

GS 2 POLITY-Supreme Court: Judicial Appointments; Dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions

Introduction

     It is the highest constitutional court, and has the power of judicial review. It has extensive powers in the form of original, appellate and advisory jurisdictions.

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Recent Incidents:

  • Decision on matter of Prashant Bhushan’s contempt case.
  • the retirement of Justice Arun Mishra.

Related Facts:

  • Executive court:Court that fails to keep a check on the executive powers.(its judgements delivers verdicts in the favour of the Government)
    • leads to political interference in the functioning of Judiciary
    • shatters the image of the judiciary
    • leads to loss of trust and confidence
    • Acceptance of Post-retirement Jobs by the Judges
    • Pro-Government CJI
    • Master of Roster:(refers to the privilege of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to constitute benches to hear cases.repared by the Registrar of Supreme Court under the orders of CJI.).
      • (4 SC Judges had highlighted that the CJI was misusing his powers as “master of roster”)

Article 145:Supreme Court with the approval of the President may make rules regulating the practice and procedure of the Court.

Procedure to allocate cases:

  • no written procedure in the top court that is followed to allocate cases.
  • When a case is filed, its details and subject matter are scrutinized by the SC registry.
  • The cases are then categorised on the basis of subject matter.47 broad categories.Eg:
    • letter petitions
    • public interest matters
    • taxation
    • service matters
    • criminal appeals.
  • The registry notifies the roster for the benches and the CJI approves it.
  • More than one bench is allocated the same subject matter.
  • CJI has the right to mark the sensitive cases to specific benches.
  • CJI has the discretion to set-up larger benches.

Drawbacks:

  • threat to judicial independence in India
  • lack of information in the transfer resolution and its opaque process of appointments and transfers.
  • National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act was struck down.(no use if executive interference)

Way Forward

  • legal certainty
  • free from bias- random computer allocation or a rules-based mechanism for allocation of cases(as followed by the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights)
  • cases are to be allocated randomly.
  • no discretion can be allowed.
  • neutral and rules-based to prevent bench packing,demonstrate neutrality, impartiality, and transparency.
  • Merit and seniority should be given and declare the reasons for transfer of the judges.
  • Politically sensitive cases should be handled by larger bench.
  • Cooling-off period for the Judges.

Conclusion

       Courts has to be ensured that are protected from outside, interference improves public confidence in the impartiality and independence of the judiciary, assures litigants of equality and fairness,protects basic rights and freedoms by not compromising on them.

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