NEW DELHI: In a rare instance of open criticism of the Supreme Court’s new case listing method introduced by new CJI U U Lalit, a bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul has in a judicial order said that the new listing system gave inadequate time to the judges to take up the matters.
The bench of Justices Kaul and Abhay S Oka passed this order on Tuesday while adjourning hearing in a case titled ‘Nagesh Chaudhary Vs State of Uttar Pradesh’ to November 15. It said, “The new listing system is not giving an adequate time to take up matters fixed for hearing like the present case as there are a number of matters within the span of ‘Afternoon’ session.”
After taking oath as the 49th CJI, Justice Lalit had vowed to streamline listing of cases as his predecessor Justice N V Ramana conceded that he could not give much attention to this area when advocates complained that fresh petitions were not getting listed.
CJI Lalit-introduced listing system meant two distinct shifts for the 30 judges. On Mondays and Fridays, they assembled in 15 different benches to hear freshly filed cases, which numbered more than 60 each day.
On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the judges in the morning session (from 10-30 am till 1 pm) heard old cases involving important questions of law in a combination of three-judge benches. In the afternoon, the two-judge benches were assigned 30-odd after-notice cases, to be dealt in 120 minutes, which amounted to each case getting on average four minutes of judicial attention. However, the CJI has already reduced the case count form 30 to 20 in these three days from Tuesday.
The rumblings among judges had started last week. A two-judge bench on Friday had refused to grant adjournment of hearing saying they have read the case file by working till late evening and that the advocate must not expect them to devote time again for reading it afresh on some other day.
But, it was forced to adjourn hearing in another case, saying, “The case files reached us at the eleventh hour and we had no time to read them.” With the ‘list of business’ published late in the day, the registry struggled to make available case files at the judges’ residences in time for the judges to read it.
Another two-judge bench on Friday brushed aside repeated requests from an advocate to fix the next date of hearing for the case which was getting adjourned, and said that he was not able to honour the dates he had fixed earlier for cases as the mode of listing has changed.