AG Rohatgi Counsels Self-restraint to Supreme Court
CJI wonders if same logic (imposing costs on corporate houses indulging in endless litigation) would apply to cases filed by state machinery
NATIONAL COURT OF APPEAL
New Delhi: Days after Chief Justice TSThakurmadeanemotionalappeal for more judges to deal with the 3 croreodd cases threatening to overwhelm the judiciary, the Modi government on Thursday counselled the Supreme Court to exercise self-restraint, not interfere with every high court ruling, impose costs on corporates indulging in protracted litigation and focus only on federal constitutional issues to arrest such pile-ups.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi did not refer at all to the CJI’s demand to the PM at a public function at Vigyan Bhavan for more judges to deal with the crises which has clogged the justice-delivery mechanism in his submissions to the court on having a national court of appeal to separately deal with appeals against high court rulings, leaving the top court to pick and decide a handful of constitutional issues like the US Supreme Court.
“A national court of appeal is neither feasible, nor desirable,” the AG said. “The right to move the Supreme Court is a basic constitutional right. If you curtail that right in 80% of the cases, you will emasculate the Constitution and deny access to justice,” he said. Instead, he suggested a self-correcting mechanism for the court to get on top of the problem of mounting arrears. “There will always be some injustice, some wrong order. The desire to correct all such errors in high court rulings must stop. This is self-defeating,” he told a bench, comprising CJI Thakur, and justices R Banumathi and UU Lalit. He suggested the court begin by imposing exemplary costs on corporate houses which indulge in endless litigation. “If they are kite-flying, the court must impose huge costs,” he told the court. In our system, litigating parties only have to pay lawyers’ fees. The AG wants the losing party to be imposed heavy costs for wasting precious time and resources of the court.
The CJI wondered whether the same logic would apply to cases filed by the state machinery. “Isn’t this a very serious issue? Is the government of India giving any serious thought to this?” he asked. The AG then suggested that the court was not the proper forum for such a debate and instead asked the CJI to lob the issue back to the Law Commission.
TheCJIwonderedhowitwouldhelp whentwoearlierLawCommission had suggested a significant increase in judge strength by at least 6-7 times to tackle the sudden explosion of litigation. Instead, the CJI said he may refer the issue to a larger bench of the court.
CourtamicusKKVenugopalandsenior advocate TR Andyarujina made an impassioned appeal for a national court of appeal with benches in all corners of the country. That would leave the top court free to deal only with important “federal constitutional issues” or issues of life and death.