National Court of Appeal

What is NCA?
The National Court Appeal with regional benches in Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata is meant to act as final court of justice in dealing with appeals from the decisions of the High Courts and tribunals within their region in civil, criminal, labour and revenue matters. In such a scenario, a much-relieved Supreme Court of India situated in Delhi would only hear matters of constitutional law and public law.
Why NCA is a good idea:
  1. A National Court of Appeals makes sense, with the Supreme Court being burdened with cases of all kinds. The Supreme Court was meant to be a Constitutional Court. However, the sheer weight of its case backlog leaves the court with little time for its primal functions.
  2. The Supreme Court will maintain its place as the apex court of land and – like England, Wales and the US – only rule on matters that are of constitutional importance or set new legal precedent. This will allow the Court to dedicate more time to develop the law.
  3. It will make geographical sense to have different benches to hear appeals. As of now, all appeals have to be heard in New Delhi, inconvenient for cases originating in other parts of the country.
  4. A court of appeal can work as an excellent mechanism to sieve cases. If there are areas of law that are particularly unsettled and need clarification, the court of appeal can club them together and send these forward to the Supreme Court. Not only can a number of individual cases be disposed of but areas of law can also be settled and a clear precedent set.
  5. If the Supreme Court only deals with crucial cases, the process will become streamlined and will save a lot of time and expense, for both litigants and the courts.
Why is it a bad idea:
  1. It will not reduce the litigation. Apex courts are not clogged but subordinate courts are.
  2. It will merely add another layer of adjudication.
  3. It is constitutionally impossible because hearing of appeals is a basic structure (which will be affected)
  4. It would be a boon only for advocates.
  5. This suggestion would require an amendment in Article 130 of the Constitution which is impermissible as this would change the constitution of the Supreme Court completely
Stand of the Government
  • NCA will add one more level of adjudication and will not help decrease litigation. It will only end up being a boon to advocates. It will mean more hardship to the litigant.
Stand of the Supreme Court
  • It has sent a clear signal to the government that it intended to push hard and pronounce a judgment on the constitutional viability of having an NCA.
What else can be done?
  • Efforts should be to strengthen subordinate judiciary (high courts) so that proper justice can be dispensed with
  • The Supreme Court should discourage the usage of the High Court as a mere stepping-stone towards the end of judicial hierarchy.
  • Firstly, A National Court of Appeal is being advocated as an intermediate forum between the Supreme Court and the various high courts of India. But a better solution to ease the higher judiciary’s burden may lie in strengthening that of the lower. Before adverting to a new layer, the conception of which may be difficult to achieve, we need to strategise and reconfigure our existing judicial hierarchy to the rising challenges before us.
  • Secondly, establishing  the NCA is a policy decision. The court cannot give direction to the central government from the top court to establish NCA as it would “tantamount to direction from (the top) court to the government to enact a law

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