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Editorial Today – National Court of Appeal

What is a National Court of Appeal The National Court of Appeal with regional benches in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata is meant to act as final court of justice in case of appeals from the decisions of High Courts and Tribunals.

Why is NCA needed Because number  of cases has increased and SC is not able to do its main constitutional function because of this.

How will the NCA help ease the apex court’s burdenBy taking up the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction, the NCA will give the former more time for its primal functions.

Does any other country have such kind of courtExample of US, England.

Other Benefits of it  Accessible to people from all region equally, sieve cases and will look into unsettled area of Law.

What is the view of Law commission about this Law commission is in favour of setting it.

What is the position of Supreme court on it  SC has formed a constitutional bench to decide whether there is a need to bifurcate the higher judiciary.

What is the position of government on it Government is not in favour of it and thus gave various reason against setting of it.

Other approach to solve this problem The bottom up approach.

Conclusion

 

 

 

What is a National Court of Appeal?

The National Court Appeal with regional benches in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata is meant to act as final court of justice in dealing with appeals from the decisions of the High Courts and tribunals within their region in civil, criminal, labour and revenue matters. In such a scenario, a much-relieved Supreme Court of India situated in Delhi would only hear matters of constitutional law and public law because the Supreme Court’s real mandate is that of a Constitutional Court, the ultimate arbiter on disputes concerning any interpretation of the Constitution

 

Why is NCA needed?

Since the Supreme Court was established in 1950, the nation’s demands have changed tremendously. The population of India in 1950 was less than 36 crores. At present, it is over 1.2 billion. The questions that came before the courts back then were also of a comparatively rudimentary nature – as can be expected of a newly-conceived nation.  There were, of course, important constitutional matters that the Court had to adjudicate on. However, areas of law like intellectual property, and taxation and corporate law were not as big as they are today. Thus, with a limited population and limited areas of law, the Court could cope with just the chief justice and seven judges.

Over the decades, with the growth in population and an increasing number of cases going for appeal, the current number of judges at the Supreme Court increased and now stands at 25 (with the maximum allowed being 31). The Court also functions for most of the year now. Even with the increase in the number of judges and working hours, there is a massive backlog of cases.

 

How will the NCA help ease the apex court’s burden?

The Supreme Court is saddled with civil and criminal appeals that arise out of everyday and even mundane disputes. By taking up the Supreme Court’s appeals jurisdiction, the NCA will give the former more time for its primal functions.

 

Does any other country have such kind of court?

In countries like US, England, Wales such kind of court is there.

Supreme Court here maintain its place as the apex court of land and rule on matters that are of constitutional importance or set new legal precedent.

This allows the Court to dedicate more time to develop the law. The Supreme Court of the UK, for instance, consists of 12 judges and in 2013-2014 only heard about 80 cases. For most cases, the final court of appeal is the aptly named Court of Appeal. Similarly, in India, if a court of appeal is established, the majority of appeals from high courts can be addressed in these courts.

 

Other Benefits of it

As of now, all appeals have to be heard in New Delhi thus becomes inconvenient for cases originating in other parts of the country. As a result the highest numbers are from high courts in the northern States and the lowest figures are from the southern high courts. Thus NCA will solve this problem.

NCA can work as an excellent mechanism to sieve cases. If there are areas of law that are particularly unsettled and need clarification, the court of appeal can club them together and send these forward to the Supreme Court. Not only can a number of individual cases be disposed of but areas of law can also be settled and a clear precedent set.

 

What is the view of Law commission about this?

The 229th report of the Law Commission of India delved into this problem in depth and came up with the suggestion of retaining the New Delhi bench of the Supreme Court as a Constitutional Court and the establishment of Cassation Benches of the Supreme Court in the four regions at New Delhi, Chennai/Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.

The 2009 report pointed out that since Article 130 of the Constitution provides that “the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or such other place or places as the Chief Justice of India may with the approval of the President, from time to time, appoint”, the creation of Cassation Benches of the Supreme Court would require no constitutional amendment.

It also pointed out how this basic model with appropriate variations has worked very successfully in countries such as Italy, Egypt, Ireland, the U.S. and Denmark.

 

What is the position of Supreme court on it?

In 1986 the Supreme Court itself  had recommended establishment of an NCA with regional Benches at Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata to ease the burden of the Supreme Court and avoid hardship to litigants who have to come all the way to Delhi to fight their cases.

Now the SC has formed a constitutional bench to decide whether there is a need to bifurcate the higher judiciary, with the Supreme Court exclusively hearing constitutional and public law cases.

 

What is the position of government on it?

In an order dated December 3, 2014 the Centre rejected proposal for a National Court of Appeal with regional Benches. The Ministry cited three grounds for rejecting the idea

  1. The Supreme Court always sits in Delhi as per the Constitution
  2. The Chief Justices of India in the past have “consistently opposed” the idea of a National Court of Appeal or regional Benches to the Supreme Court
  3. Attorney-General said a National Court of Appeal would “completely change the constitution of the Supreme Court.

But it can be countered on following grounds

  1. The request was not for regional Benches of the Supreme Court but for a separate judicial body: the National Court of Appeals.
  2. A Constitution Bench of the apex court in 1986 had itself recommended establishment of National Court of Appeal with regional Benches at Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata to ease the burden of the Supreme Court and avoid hardship to litigants who have to come all the way to Delhi to fight their cases.

 

Other approach to solve this problem

The lower judiciary should be strengthened which generally constitutes the court of first instance.

The high court can be viewed as the regular  and, in most cases, final appellate court. If socially conscious and meritorious women and men, who subscribe to the best constitutional values, are elevated as judges to our subordinate judiciary and the high courts, the idea of viewing the Supreme Court as a routine court of appeal can be renounced altogether.

Moreover, at the same time, at least two constitution benches can be designated to hear cases Monday through Friday, thereby solving problems concerning the inability of the Supreme Court to devote itself to its most important duty.

 

Conclusion

The Supreme Court was created as an apex court for the purpose of laying down the law for the entire country and was never intended to be a regular court of appeal against orders made by the High Court or the session’s court or the magistrates. Moreover there is difficulty in accessing the apex court for people living in remote and backward corners of the country, the high costs of engaging senior advocates in the Supreme Court has created a stark situation of inequality in accessing justice.

The solution may not even be the National Court of Appeal but a completely different idea which emerges during the course of deliberations and is found acceptable to the government, the Supreme Court and the stakeholders but whatever may be the consensus, it must find a solution to the problems. Otherwise law will stagnate while society advances, which is not good for both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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    Thanks

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