ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Burdening the Judiciary

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The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 was recently passed in the Rajya Sabha. This is not the first controversial bill to have been passed by the current Parliament. “With 26 Bills Passed, Parliament Session on Way to Being ‘Most Productive,’ ” read a headline recently. The passing of these bills, it must be remembered, has been without consultation with any parliamentary committee. As a result, 37 bills introduced in both the houses in the present session have not been sent for scrutiny to any committee, including the Triple Talaq Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act (UAPA), National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, Right to Information (Amendment) Act (RTI), and National Investigaton Agency (Amendment) Act (NIA). Consequently, the RTI is likely to face constitutional scrutiny and even the Triple Talaq Act has been challenged in the courts. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), UAPA, NIA, and NMC stand on the same footing.

A major issue that has arisen after the passing of such bills is the burden that they have put on the judiciary. This burden is twofold: statistical and jurisprudential. Statistical in the sense that these challenges take the time of the Court, for example, the final arguments in the Shreya Singhal case were argued for 17 days, and the hearing of the Aadhaar Act took 38 days (only the second longest in the history of the Court). In the Shreya Singhal case, it took almost two and a half years for the Court to declare the provisions unconstitutional. Even worse, the Aadhaar Act operated for six years before finally getting a hearing. Whether this exercise is to appease the voters or set a record on the number of bills passed, such instances add volume to the burden of the courts. The statistics speak for themselves. As of 1 July 2019, there are over 59,000 matters pending before the Supreme Court of India and over four lakh in the high courts. This number has only been increasing.

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Updated On : 27th Dec, 2019

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