New Delhi: The Supreme Court today reserved its order on a plea seeking setting up of National Court of Appeal with regional benches in major cities for deciding cases arising from high courts with the Centre opposing it on the grounds including the litigants cannot be deprived of the right to approach the apex court.
“The Supreme Court should take some self-correcting measures and use innovative technology and impose heavy costs on frivolous petitions to reduce pendency,” Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said to the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur.
He said that initially, there were eight judges in the apex court and out of them six used to hear matters of constitutional importance and two other judges used to hear regular kind of appeals.
“Now, the Supreme Court has become a regular court of appeals for 80 per cent of cases,” he said that led the bench to ask him as to who has contributed more in it.
“Who else has converted the Supreme Court into the regular court of appeal? What about the state. You (Centre) yourself have made it,” the bench said.
Referring to relevant constitutional schemes, Rohatgi said that the citizens have “inalienable” fundamental right to move the Supreme Court and this is part of the “basic structure” which cannot be taken away.
The bench, also comprising Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit, indicated that it may refer the matter to larger constitutional bench for deliberations.
Rohatgi opposed the proposal of setting up of the National Court of Appeal saying that it is neither “feasible nor desirable” and if it is set up, it will be a “self-defeating exercise as after 10 years more number of cases will clog the system and the dockets will again get full”.
He also said that to reduce pendency in the apex court, the judges have to exercise “self-restraint” and not take up every case decided by the High Courts.