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Supreme Court say there is no need as of now to set up its regional benches: Law Minister in LS

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New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on Friday said according to the Supreme Court, there is no need to have its regional benches as of now.

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Responding to a supplementary during Question Hour on the government accepting a recommendation of a parliamentary panel that regional benches of the top court be set up, Meghwal said the recommendations of the standing committee on Law and Personnel is a separate thing. "But when the matter reached the court, the Supreme Court said as of now, there is no need for it." The parliamentary committee had on Wednesday said the government has accepted its recommendation that SC should have regional benches.

In its action taken report on its earlier submission on "Judicial Processes and Their Reforms", the Standing Committee on Law and Personnel noted that its recommendation has been accepted by the government.

In the chapter dealing with recommendations/ observations which have been accepted by the government, the panel referred to its earlier recommendation on feasibility of regional benches of the Supreme Court.

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The committee had earlier noted that the demand for having regional benches of the Supreme Court is about 'access to justice,' which is a fundamental right under the Constitution.

There has been a long-standing demand, it noted, for having regional benches of the top court in the country for taking justice to the doorstep of the common citizen.

"The regional benches may also be seen as a solution to the overflowing caseload of the judiciary and to reduce the litigation cost to the common man," it had said.

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In its response or 'action taken', the Department of Justice in the law ministry noted that as per Article 130 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court will sit in Delhi or such other place or places, as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the President, from time to time, appoint.

It told the committee that the matter of regional benches of the Supreme Court has been referred for the opinion of the Attorney General on two occasions.

The then AG G E Vahanvati had opined that the issue of regional benches of the Supreme Court is "impermissible".

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Constitutional amendments of this kind are simply unacceptable for various reasons, Vahanvati had said.

Mukul Rohatgi, the then A-G had in March 2016 opined that the court sitting in regional benches would impair the unity, integrity, importance and majesty of the Supreme Court and the apex court ought not to sit in the regional Benches and also for additional reason that there would be immense conflict of views which may become difficult to resolve entailing time and expenditure of litigants. The issue of territorial jurisdiction was also flagged.

"The Supreme Court has been consistently rejecting the proposal for setting up of the Benches of Supreme Court at a place outside Delhi," the government said.

In a writ petition on establishment of National Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court in July 2016 "deemed it proper" to refer the issue to Constitutional Bench for authoritative pronouncement.

The matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court. PTI NAB ZMN

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