The Supreme Court questioned the functioning of court officials on Tuesday, questioning months-long delays in listing matters for hearing despite fulfilment of requirements. The chief justice was seeking an explanation for a case that had been listed after a one-and-a-half-year wait.
While hearing a special leave petition filed in 2021 against a Karnataka high court order, a bench of Chief Justice UU Lalit and Justice Bela M Trivedi questioned why the case was scheduled for hearing for the first time one and a half years after it was filed, despite the fact that it was ready to be heard.
The bench issued a notice to the registry and instructed it to explain why the matter was not listed earlier. The court stated, “We have issued a notice to the registry to file an explanation why the subject was not included.” It also asked the registry to compile a list of all such matters that are ready to be tried in court but have not been listed in a long time within two days. “All information of such matters must be provided, along with an explanation and any corrective actions made since.” The bench ordered.
The operation of the Supreme Court registry has been criticised on several occasions, with parties alleging that some cases are given priority in listing while others sit in the queue for an extended period of time. Even the highest judicial benches have publicly expressed their disgust.
In August, a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and AS Bopanna expressed concern after learning that the Supreme Court Registry had removed a file from its docket.
After taking over as Chief Justice of India, Justice Lalit attempted to streamline the process by scheduling hearings on several old petitions, including PILs, some of which were submitted in 2018. The petitions were taken up for hearing and many of them disposed of. The CJI also ensured that any fresh petition filed in the Supreme Court gets listed for hearing within ten days.