The Supreme Court has disposed of 6,844 cases since Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud took over as the new Chief Justice of India (CJI) on November 9, staying on top by disposing of around a thousand more cases than those filed in the same period. As many as 5,898 cases were filed between November 9 and December 16, the last working day before the Supreme Court closed for winter vacation.
Out of a total of 6,844 cases disposed of in 29 working days, 2,511 bail and surrender motions were related to personal liberty matters and family disputes, according to data released by the Supreme Court Administration on Monday. Between November 9 and December 16, there were 10 such days when the Supreme Court closed the curtains on more than 300 cases.
On an average, the apex court under the new CJI decided 236 cases every day. Of these, 90 cases were requests for bail and transfer. The emphasis on expeditious disposal of bail and transfer applications was underlined by the CJI on November 17 when he announced that cases involving personal liberty would be prioritized under the new regime. Unveiling his plans as CJI, Justice Chandrachud said that each bench of the apex court will hear 10 bailable cases and 10 transfer applications every day of the week.
Transfer petition cases involve matrimonial disputes where one spouse seeks to transfer the case to another venue. Under the Constitution, as well as under the Civil and Criminal Code, only the Supreme Court has the power to transfer cases from one court to another, in the same state or otherwise. Addressing lawyers present in his courtroom on November 17, CJI Chandrachud emphasized that a decision had been taken to give priority to cases where the petitioners were in jail or feared imminent restriction of liberty. “After 10 adjournment applications, all chambers will hear 10 bail cases every day… these are personal liberty matters and we will prioritize them. After hearing these 20 cases, all the courts will start their regular sessions,” the CJI added.
The case disposal figures closely follow a strong statement by the CJI-led apex court on personal liberty, which many interpreted as a response to criticism of the Supreme Court for dealing with small bail cases and matrimonial disputes. The Supreme Court exists to answer the cry of citizens who have been deprived of their freedom and therefore no case is too small for the highest court of the land, CJI Chandrachud said on Friday, ordering the immediate release of a man sentenced to life imprisonment. 18 years in jail for nine separate cases of electricity theft in Uttar Pradesh.
“It is in seemingly small and routine matters involving citizen complaints that immediate problems arise, both from a legal and constitutional point of view… The right to personal liberty is a rare and inalienable right recognized by the Constitution. In dealing with such complaints, the Supreme Court is discharging a simple constitutional duty, obligation and function; nothing more and nothing less,” the CJI-led bench said on December 16.
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