The pendency of cases in courts is a huge legacy issue in India. The pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. Many innocent people suffer for years due to this. At present also, there are so many people languishing in jails across India, even though they might be innocent, due to the failure of courts to take up cases on time. Addressing the pendency issue forms a key aspect of judicial reforms. The Supreme Court’s latest decision to revive the Constitution Benches and ensure that they function throughout the year is a welcome move in this direction. Those involving substantial questions on the interpretation of the Constitution are among the more crucial cases that need to be resolved at the level of the apex court.
The announcement about the listing of 25 Constitution Bench matters for hearing on a daily basis sends the right message to all the stakeholders. The Supreme Court is not merely a court of appeal but is the interpreter of the Constitution – an aspect that has been overlooked in recent years in favour of other pending matters. If the apex court decides a matter promptly, then the lower courts can follow suit in similar matters. These sweeping changes would help the judges identify, hear and provide relief in cases that need their urgent attention. It would also help litigants and lawyers to avoid delays in getting their cases listed for hearing before judges due to the longwinded processes of the Supreme Court registry.