The Law Commission recommended the setting up of four benches of the Supreme Court in Delhi, Madras or Hyderabad, Calcutta and Bombay. But the attorney-general Goolam E. Vahanvati has advised the UPA government against it, saying that in a federal set-up, the apex court must be in the nation’s capital.
If regional benches of the SC are set up, he says, the selection of judges for these benches too would have to be done on a regional basis “which will destroy the integral character of the SC”. The chief justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, has said the setting up of benches could lead to the “disintegration” of the SC’s authority.
The Union law minister Veerappa Moily has concurred with the AG’s advice.
In this sea of consensus, the former SC judge V.R. Krishna Iyer has hurled a small pebble, arguing that “those who say don’t disturb Delhi’s dignity or claim access to the lordly Supreme Court,” are flagrantly flouting the shared vision for a socialist democratic republic.
“Pity that socialism is abhorrent for our law officers. People will deal with them justly and make the Supreme Court for Indians since we are in a democracy which, by definition, is government by and for the people. Solidarity and monopoly of power in Delhi has an imperialist flavour and socialist allergy. Even judges are bound by the socialist Constitution. Whatever touches us all should be decided by all.”
Questions: Should SC benches should be set? Or not? Will it result in “disintegration” or will it decrease the distance? Will the benches become a political football between competing States? Are courts about socialism, or justice? And, to take Justice Krishna Iyer’s judicial socialist theory forward, is any State wrong in not claiming an SC bench on its soil?