Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act 1956 Current Affairs - 2019

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Lok Sabha passes Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019

Lok Sabha has passed Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from the present 30 to 33 (excluding Chief Justice of India). The Bill amends Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Ac, 1956. It helps to meet long standing demand of increasing strength of Supreme Court judges to resolve number of pending cases can be brought down substantially.

Salient features of Bill

The Bill to increase strength of Supreme Court judges by 10% i.e. to 33 from present 30 (excluding Chief Justice of India).

As of now full sanctioned strength of SC is 31 (including CJI). Once this bill gets in Rajya Sabha also and gets full parliamentary nod and presidential assent, the number of judges would go up to 34, including the CJI.

The purpose of increasing in number of judges is to allow Supreme Court to function more efficiently and effictively towards attaining the ultimate goal of of rendering speedy jusstice to the litigants.

Background

The strength of Supreme Court is fixed by law enacted Parliament as per Article 124 (1) of Constitution of India. Therefore, strength of Supreme Court judges can be increased by way of parliamentary legislation. For this purpose Parliament has enacted Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956, which originally provided for maximum of 10 judges (excluding CJI). This number was increased to 13 by Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1960 and to 17 in 1977.

However till the end of 1979, the working strength of Supreme Court was restricted to 15 judges (excluding CJI) by cabinet. But the restriction was later withdrawn at request of CJI. In 1986, strength of Supreme Court was increased to 25, excluding CJI. Subsequently, Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 2009 further increased strength of Supreme Court judges from 25 to 30 (excluding CJI).

Cabinet approves increasing strength of Supreme Court Judges

Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved increasing the number of judges in Supreme Court from the present 31 to 34 (i.e. by 10%), including Chief Justice of India (CJI). In this regard it has approved bill to amend Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956. At present, the full sanctioned strength of SC is 31 (including CJI). Once this bill gets parliamentary nod, the number of judges would go up to 34, including the CJI.

Background

This decision of Union Cabinet comes after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested to increase number of judges in the Supreme Court. CJI in his letter had urged to augment judge-strength in SC appropriately so that it can function more efficiently and effectively and go a long way to attain ultimate goal of rendering timely justice to litigant public. He also had mentioned that due to paucity of judges, the required number of Constitution Benches of SC were not being formed to decide important cases involving questions of law. According to written reply by Law Minister to Rajya Sabha there are total 11, 59,331 cases are pending in the Supreme court.

SC Composition: Constitutional and Statutory Provisions

The strength of Supreme Court is fixed by law made by Parliament as per Article 124 (1) of Constitution of India. Therefore, the strength can be increased by way of parliamentary legislation. In pursuance of this Parliament has enacted Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956, which originally provided for maximum of 10 judges (excluding the CJI). The law was last amended in 2009 to increase judges’ strength from 25 to 30 (excluding the CJI).