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In a first, single judge SC bench to hear bail appeals

September 21, 2019 05:26 AM


In a first, single judge SC bench to hear bail appeals
breakthrough Move is aimed at bringing down pendency in the top court, says official

At present, single-judge benches sit on Mondays and Fridays to hear routine matters. Biplov Bhuyan/HT archive
HT Correspondent

New Delhi : Over 69 years after it came into existence, the Supreme Court of India will, for the first time, have a judge sitting singly to decide on matters of bail and anticipatory bail — in cases which carry a punishment of up to seven years’ imprisonment — and transfer of cases from one state to another.

Supreme Court Rules 2013 have been amended to allow the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to nominate any apex court judge and constitute a single-judge bench. The notification of the changes introduced in the rules was published in the Gazette of India on September 19.

The move, aSupreme Court registry official said, is aimed at bringing down pendency in the top court. It is not yet clear how many such benches would be set up by the CJI. On Monday, four new judges would be administered the oath, taking up the strength of the apex court to 34.

Several transfer petitions related to matrimonial disputes have choked the system. “Such matters can be disposed of quickly by a single judge,” the official cited above said on condition of anonymity.

At present, single-judge benches sit on Mondays and Fridays to hear routine matters such as applications to condone delays in refiling a petition after defects are rectified, to exempt a petitioner from surrendering in a criminal case or allowing more time to remove defects in petitions and applications for renewal of fixed deposits. The new rule would allow single judges to now decide cases on the judicial side.

“The following category of matters may be heard and disposed off finally by a judge sitting singly, nominated by the Chief Justice of India, Special Leave Petitions arising out of grant, dismissal or rejection of Bail Application or Anticipatory Bail Application filed under Sections 437, 438 and 439 of the CrPC involving offences punishable with sentence up to seven years imprisonment... Any other category of cases notified by the Chief Justice from time to time,” the notification reads.

Since 1950, when the Supreme Court of India replaced the Federal Court after independence from British rule, the tradition has been for judges to decide on cases sitting on a two or more than two-judge benches.

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