Mr. A. K. Ganguli, Senior Advocate, written a letter to President of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to discuss Bench-Bar Relationship and in addition listing of Admission Matters on Mondays and Fridays in pursuance to a Notification dated September 17, 2019 issued by the Supreme Court of India amending the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.
Supreme Court last month has amended the Supreme Court Rules 2013 which inter alia empowers a Single Judge to hear transfer petitions and bail applications of offences punishable upto 7 years.
On, 14 October, 2019, Pursuant to a meeting of Bar members preceding the Dussehra Holidays, Senior Advocate A.K. Ganguli has made a formal request through a letter ‘Statement I’ address to Mr. Rakesh Khanna, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on the need for ‘co-ordination and co-operation between the Bench and the Bar’ for the ‘wheels of the chariot of justice’ to work in tandem.
“As the SCBA President, Mr. Khanna is required to interact with the Hon’ble Judges, especially the Chief Justice of India. The said amendments to the Supreme Court Rules were notified in the Gazette, surprisingly without any consultation with the SCBA. I would like Mr Khanna to discuss issues placed in statements not only among the Members of the Executive Committee of the SCBA but also among other Members of the Bar and may circulate these notes/statements among the Members of the Bar to initiate a healthy discussion on such crucial aspects”, he said.
In his submissions, Mr. Ganguli recalls of a proposal exactly on the lines of the aforesaid amendment which the erstwhile Chief Justice Y.V. Chandrachud dropped on consultation with the members of the bar. Grant or refusal of bail are vital matters concerning the life and personal liberty of accused individuals and the bar reposes tremendous faith in a decision by a division bench.
Mr. Ganguli also points out that the omnibus provision that empowers CJI to notify more category of cases for listing before a Single Judge must ideally pass through the consultation process of the bench and the bar.
A further ‘Statement II’ submitted by him raises other pertinent matters which Mr. Ganguli says, ‘is a document which was prepared by me at the request of the then Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Mr.Justice S.H. Kapadia.’ Following are the two key points mentioned:
Listing of Admission Matters on Mondays And Fridays
Advocates face enormous difficulty on Mondays and Fridays when admission matters are taken up exclusively, as they have to hop from one courtroom to the other through overcrowded corridors. According to him, ‘the Court rooms remain jam packed, so much so that it is impossible for the Lawyers (and for that matter anyone) to wade through the corridors and reach the Court room when their matter is taken up. The problem has worsened with large number of law students, interns and teachers from all over the country visiting the Court on a regular basis. Their presence having been barred from the first five Court rooms on the southern end, they overcrowd the remaining courtrooms on the northern end,’ which, as pointed out, are also comparatively smaller than the ones in the southern end.
He has also stated that parking of vehicles on admission days is also extremely cumbersome.
Mr. Ganguli thus suggests evolving a practice of hearing limited number of admission matters everyday of the week so that the footfall in the courtrooms and corridors is spread out comfortably over the week.
Uniform Practice By Different Benches
Stating the principle of Cursus curiae est lex curiae, i.e. the practice of the Court is the law of the Court, Sr. Adv Ganguli has lamented that different practices adopted by different benches are, at times, confusing and also inconvenient to the lawyers and litigants. He states:
‘For instance, different benches follow different practices as to Passovers. Certain benches, as a practice, always grant Passovers on the first calling, while others do not grant any Passovers in the first ten matters. Certain Benches take passed over matters (fresh) soon after the hearing of fresh matters, while others take them only at the end of their list. While certain benches sit and hear matters even during the lunch break, others do not. Certain benches, as a rule, do not permit oral mentioning in any form, whereas the practice is still prevalent in other benches.
Consistent with the position that the Supreme Court occupies, it is important that the Hon’ble Court evolves a uniform practice in all matters to be followed by all the benches of the Court, be it in the matter of mentioning, the order of hearing, the timings of the Court as well as the practice and procedures with respect to Passovers and adjournments.’
If the judiciary takes heed of these suggestions, the Bench, the bar and the litigants – all stand to gain from the outcome.
— India Legal Bureau