Supreme Court’s Single Judge Benches to Tackle Piled-Up Cases

In a first for the Supreme Court, the single-judge benches will be hearing certain kinds of petitions from May 13, 2020. The purpose of introducing a new system is to dispose of piled up pending cases. The number of pending cases in the Supreme Court is roughly around 60,000. The single-judge bench will hear appeals of bail and anticipatory bail petitions; in cases that involve offences liable for punishment of not more than a seven-year jail term.

Earlier, Order VI, Rule 1 of the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 stated that these matters shall be heard by a Bench of not less than two judges. However, after the September 2019 amendment, the SLPs arising out of bail applications; transfer of cases under Section 406 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC); and Section 25 of Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) can be heard by Single Judge Benches. The Chief Justice of India will nominate the single Judge Benches for hearing and disposing of the said category of matters.

Amid the coronavirus lockdown, the Supreme Court is hearing matters of extreme urgency; through video conferencing on Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp applications. A circular in March, issued by top court’s secretary-general, said that for all matters involving extreme urgency. Following which, the Advocate on Record (AOR) or party-in-person first files the petition or an application; preferably through the e-filing mode. Then, he had to file another application containing a synopsis of extreme urgency.