The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019

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Introduction 

A bill to increase the number of judges in the apex court i.e. Supreme Court of India from 30 to 33 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 05th august 2019, once the bill gets parliamentary approval; its sanctioned strength will go up to 33, excluding the CJI, according to the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill 2019.

Due to paucity of judges in Supreme Court it makes difficult to form constitutional bench to decide important cases involving question of fact or law as replied by CJI Ranjan Gagoi in his letter to the Prime mister of India regarding concern of pending cases, as now nearly 60,000 pending cases are there in the Supreme Court.

What is the Bill?

  • The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 5, 2019 by Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and Justice the Bill amends the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956. 
     
  • The Act fixes the maximum number of judges in the Supreme Court at 30 judges excluding the Chief Justice of India and the Bill increases this number from 30 to 33 excluding the CJI.

 Last Amendments

As law info The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956 which originally provides for a maximum of 10 judges exclusion of CJI.

This above number was increased to 13 by the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1960, and then to 17 in 1977. 

 However, the working strength of the apex court was restricted to 15 judges by the cabinet exclusion of the chief Justice of India till the end of 1979, but later this restriction was withdrawn at the request of the chief justice of India.

 The main objects and reasons behind bringing these bills are the pendency of cases in the Supreme Court of India has constantly been on the rise due to comparatively higher rate of institution of cases.

As It is not possible for the Chief Justice of India to constitute five Judges Bench on a regular basis to hear cases where there is involvement of substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution or facts as it would result in constitution of less number of Division Benches which would lead to delay in hearing of other civil and criminal matters.

In 1986, the strength of Supreme Court of India was increased to 25, exclusion of the CJI. Thereafter, the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 2009 further expanded the strength of the court from 25 to 30 judgers excluding CJI.

And now The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 increases this number from 30 to 33 excluding the CJI.

Recent update 

The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019 is passed on the same date i.e. 05th august 2019 of introduction in Lok Sabha, now the BILL has sent to upper house for its approval with requisite majority of the house.

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