(Delivered in Parliament on 5 November 2019)
Mr Speaker, sir, I would like to seek a few clarifications from the SMS on the Supreme Court Judicature (Amendment) Bill.
Section 29C(2) provides for an appeal from the General Division of the High Court to the Court of Appeal if the Sixth Schedule or any other written law so provides. Section 1 of the Sixth Schedule states that for the purposes of Section 29C(2), an appeal against the decision of the General Division in the exercise of its original or appellate civil jurisdiction is to be made to the Court of Appeal in the list of cases provided under (a) to (j).
I would like to know how does the Government decide that such cases under the Sixth Schedule should be allowed a direct path to the Court of Appeal and it would not be appropriate for the Appellate Division of the High Court to be the final arbiter body. I am saying this bearing in mind that for any existing legislation hitherto requiring the Court of Appeal as the final court hearing any appeal, it may be possible to amend the relevant law making the new Appellate Division as the final arbiter. I would like to know what were the considerations behind this list.
For example, how does the Government arrive at the conclusion that it would be suitable to have the Court of Appeal to hear cases under Section 18(5) of the Maintenance of Parents Act and that it is not appropriate for such appeal to now be changed to the Appellate Division instead?
Next, the Bill provides that under Section 29D, the Court of Appeal may transfer two specific types of appeals to itself: (a) an appeal against any decision of the General Division that has been made to the Appellate Division and (b) where an order under section 39A of the Land Acquisition Act is in force, any appeal made to the Appellate Division under Section 29(2) or 38(2) of the Land Acquisition Act. The power to do so can be exercised, inter alia, on the Court of Appeal’s own motion or on a reference by the Appellate Division. Section 29(3) states that in making its decision under Section 29D(1) to so transfer the case to itself, the Court of Appeal must have regards to matters prescribed by the Rules of Court. I would like to ask the SMS whether he is able to share with the House what would be these matters or considerations which the ministry has in mind.
Number of judges sitting on the Appellate Division and projected increase in the number of judges in say within the next 5 years following the setting up of the Appellate Division
Finally, Mr Speaker, sir, it appears that with the new Appellate Division, an increase in the number of judges in the High Court is likely. I would like to ask the SMS: one, what is the projected number of judges sitting at the Appellate Division of the High Court at the inception of the Division after the passing of this bill and, two, whether the SMS has any estimation or projection as to the number of additional judges which the High Court is expected to have in the next, say 5 years after the setting up of the Appellate Division.
Mr Speaker, sir, I support this Bill and the proposed legislative changes for the restructuring of the Supreme Court.