Senior lawyer and Rajya Sabha member P Wilson has introduced a Private Member Bill called the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which seeks to establish four Permanent Regional Branches of the Supreme Court to decentralise the Supreme Court.
Mr Wilson has advocated setting up regional benches of the Apex Court for some time now. In a letter to the Union Law Minister, he had stated that access to justice should not be reserved for the wealthy, but it’s a right of every Indian.
The Statements of Objects and Reasons for the Bill states that presently people who have money to travel to Delhi and hire a lawyer could access the Supreme Court. Therefore people who don’t have means are unable to fight a case in the Apex Court.
It is stated that the establishment of Permanent Regional Benches will increase the strength of the Apex Court. The Bill further reads that currently, there are only 34 SC judges for a population of 133 crores.
Important points about the Bill.:-
- The Bill aims to amend Article 130 of the Indian Constitution to form 5 Benches of the Supreme Court. The Delhi Bench would hear constitutional cases, and the other four permanent Benches would be at Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi.
- The CJI would have the power to classify cases as per their constitutional importance.
- The regional benches would have complete jurisdiction of the Apex Court except cases taken by the Constitution Bench.
- Northern Regional Bench at Delhi will hear cases from UP, Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and UTs of Ladakh, J&K and Chandigarh.
- Southern Regional Bench will be at Chennai and will hear cases from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and the Union Territories of Pondicherry, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka.
- Eastern Regional Bench will take up cases from Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh,
- Western Regional Bench will hear cases from Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Goa and the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, MP and Maharashtra.
- The CJI will have the power to transfer cases between regional permanent and constitutional bench in the interest of justice.
- The CJI will nominate judges for the regional and permanent benches. He will not nominate less than six judges.
- While nominating judges for the regional bench, the CJI will prefer judges who have earlier served or practices at the court.