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  India   All India  16 Aug 2019  Law minister, A-G differ over Courts of Appeal plan

Law minister, A-G differ over Courts of Appeal plan

Published : Aug 16, 2019, 1:17 am IST
Updated : Aug 16, 2019, 1:17 am IST

The minister was speaking at a function organised at the Supreme Court by the Supreme Court Bar Association to celebrate the 73rd Independence Day.

Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (Photo: ANI)
 Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (Photo: ANI)

New Delhi: In an obvious reference to the judiciary stepping into the executive domain, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday expressed concern over some high court judges entertaining PILs and passing directions as if there was a parallel administration, and sought creation of an “in-house corrective mechanism” for judicial discipline and accountability.

Referring to instances where judges, just two days before their retirement, pronounce judgments which are legally questionable and then participate in TV discussions to defend them, the law minister urged the Supreme Court to create an “in-house corrective mechanism” for judicial discipline, accountability and propriety.


The minister was speaking at a function organised at the Supreme Court by the Supreme Court Bar Association to celebrate the 73rd Independence Day.

Mr Prasad, however, appeared reluctant to endorse the suggestion made by attorney-general K.K. Venugopal for the setting up of four Courts of Appeal in the country’s four regions — North, South, East and West — whose decisions would be final in the cases entrusted to them.

The law minister, instead, favoured discussions with all stakeholders on the issue. The attorney-general had said that the creation of the Courts of Appeals would ease the burden on the Supreme Court, which is clogged with cases that are seven to eight years old, and in some cases date back to over a decade and a half.


The suggestion by the attorney-general needed to be  discussed with all stakeholders, Mr Prasad said, while exhorting the judiciary to fast-track cases which were 10 years or more old, and then take up cases that were five years old.

Mr Venugopal had advocated the creation of Courts of Appeal in the four regions so that the Supreme Court’s burden could be eased and it could focus on cases that involved questions of law and the Constitution. “We have long back lost sight of the objective for which the Supreme Court was created,” the A-G said, bemoaning that the court had become another court of appeal that dealt with all sorts of cases, including divorce matters.


Mr Venugopal, in his speech, flagged the issue of the paucity of judges at all levels  saying it compared poorly with the number of judges per million people in Britain, the United States, Australia and other Commonwealth countries.

Observing that the pendency of cases was staring in the face of nation’s justice delivery system, the attorney-general said even in the Supreme Court the cases that were taken up on Wednesday (August 14) there were 30 civil cases of 2007 (12 years old) and petitions seeking the transfer of cases pending since 2003 (16 years).

He said since petitions seeking the transfer of cases were pending for 16 years, the main case that was sought to be transferred had not been proceeded at all because of the stay of proceedings. He said all these cases should be decided within two years of their being filed.


The existing strength of judges, the attorney-general said, was no match for the exponential rate at which the filing of cases was taking place.

Saying change was a constant factor in the evolution of the judiciary, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said: “We have to introspect and look ahead for a better change. Change is the only constant, and it should be for the better.”

Saying the moral authority of the justice delivery system rested on public confidence, the CJI referred to certain incidents involving the questionable conduct of members of the Bar. He made it clear that there was no room for indecorum or inappropriate behaviour in either the Bar or the judiciary. Saying the judiciary was the “watchdog” of the Constitution, CJI Gogoi said that all stakeholders would have to rise above their parochial undertones and myopic views.


Tags: ravi shankar prasad, courts of appeal
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi