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“Amend Constitution to set up regional apex court benches”

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Parliamentary committee on Law and Justice has reiterated its earlier recommendation to the Centre to amend the Constitution to make a provision for the establishment of regional Benches of the Supreme Court in the West, north-East and South for easy accessibility of justice to the poor and the needy.

In its 32nd report submitted to Parliament last week, the Committee said, “the High court Benches in various places in addition to the State capital is much appreciated by people for easy accessibility to justice to the poor and the needy, on reasonable expenditure.

The Committee is not happy with the persistent opposition to establishing Benches of the Supreme Court in other parts of the country without advancing any convincing reason or justification therefore.”

Provision

In its report the Committee, headed by E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, said, “even the Constitution makes provision for it under Article 130 [the Supreme Court sits in Delhi. It can, however, meet in any other place or places as the Chief Justice of India (CJI) may, with the approval of the President].”

In its action taken reply to the earlier report, the Centre told the present committee that the matter had been taken up with the CJI from time to time.

However, the Supreme Court had not agreed to set up a Bench at any place outside Delhi.

The Committee, therefore, endorses its earlier view that establishment of Benches at least in Chennai on a trial basis and then in other parts would be of immense help to the poor who cannot afford to travel from their native places to Delhi.

The Committee feels that the Law Ministry should come forward with a necessary constitutional amendment to address this deadlock.”

On regional languages

On its earlier recommendation for introduction of regional languages as the language of the respective High Courts, the report said, “the Committee feels that the CJI had rejected the proposal without considering the benefits for those people who are poor, living in rural areas and who cannot afford education and cannot speak any language other than their mother tongue.”

“The Committee feels that these factors should be borne in mind while making any observation. Even Tamil language contains legal terms and the Constitution has been translated in Tamil. Since the matter has been referred to the law Secretary for his comments, the Committee will appreciate if the Ministry furnishes details on the action taken by implementing the recommendation.”

The Committee also recommended creation of an all-India Judicial Service on the lines of Civil Services examination to attract the best talent in the country to join the judicial system.

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