With cases piling up, the Supreme Court has decided to have single judge benches to hear bail pleas and transfer petitions. This marks a departure from the practice followed till now by which the minimum strength on a bench was two judges.
The changes have been brought about by making suitable amendments in the Supreme Court Rules, 2013.
According to this, a single judge would hear “Special Leave Petitions arising out of grant, dismissal or rejection of bail application or anticipatory bail application …involving offences punishable with imprisonments up to seven years imprisonment”. It will also hear applications for transfer of cases under section 406 of Code of Criminal Procedure as well as applications of an urgent nature for transfer of cases under section 25 of the Code of Civil Procedure, an official notification said.
Besides those specified, a single judge may also hear any other category of cases which may be notified by the Chief Justice of India from time to time. The development comes at a time the top court has over 60,000 cases pending.
After taking oath as CJI in October last year, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has focused on efforts to reduce the backlog not just in the Supreme Court, but also in the subordinate judiciary.