New Delhi: Data presented by the Union law ministry in parliament shows that the number of cases disposed of by Supreme Court constitution benches has decreased over the decades since independence.
While the decade between 1960 and 1969 saw the apex court’s constitution benches dispose of a record 956 cases, the time period between 2010 and 2020 saw just 71.
Constitution benches comprise at least five Supreme Court judges and are formed to adjudicate cases involving significant questions of law and interpretations of constitutional provisions.
Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal presented the data as part of a response in the Lok Sabha to a question posed by Alappuzha MP and CPI(M) member Abdul Majeed Ariff.
Ariff asked the government if it was aware that “several cases having serious consequences for the legal system of the country” were pending adjudication before the Supreme Court’s constitution benches.
He continued: “[Will the Minister of Law and Justice be pleased to state] … whether it is true that the reason for pendency of the above mentioned cases is the lack of interest in expediting the same, if so, the details thereof and the corrective action likely to be taken by the government in this regard?”
Meghwal’s reply, which was stated on Friday, July 28, listed the number as well as names of cases currently pending before the top court’s constitution benches.
As of July 20 this year, 29 main cases remained pending – out of these, 18 were pending before five-judge constitution benches, six before seven-judge benches and five before nine-judge benches.
The law ministry’s data also included a table of the number of cases that constitution benches have disposed of so far.
Meghwal denied that a lack of interest was behind the number of pending cases.
“As per information obtained from the Supreme Court, in respect of the constitution bench cases, there are intricate issues of law involved and arguments are addressed for [a] number of days ranging from weeks to months. The said issues require deep analysis and thorough examination of law.”
“Therefore, it is not possible to set out strict parameters and timelines regarding adjudication of such cases,” he said.
On corrective action by the government with regard to these cases, Meghwal said that their disposal was within the exclusive domain of the judiciary.
The article was first ublished by The Wire