SC to Pass Unified Order to Prepare 7 and 9 Judge-Bench Cases for Hearing


The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will pass a common order for several significant cases, comprising both nine-judge and seven-judge bench matters. These cases encompass various topics, including those related to money bills and the speaker’s authority to disqualify MLAs, as a means to prepare them for hearing.
A seven-judge bench led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud addressed six seven-judge and four nine-judge matters during a session. One of the seven-judge matters concerns the correctness of the 2016 Nabam Rebia verdict, particularly the speaker’s authority in disqualifying MLAs, which was ruled upon by a five-judge Constitution bench.
The Chief Justice expressed the objective to prepare these matters for hearings by issuing a common order in line with the circular of August 22, 2023. The circular specifies the submission of pleadings, documents, and precedents, all to be filed within three weeks. The bench also mentioned the appointment of nodal counsel in each matter to create a common compilation.
Advocates involved in these cases were requested to provide the names of nodal counsel. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who represents some of these matters, urged the bench to provide the hearing dates in advance to allow lawyers to prepare their cases. The Chief Justice stated that he would examine the bench’s calendar for this.
The bench also requested lawyers to estimate the time required for each matter. Many of these cases have been pending for approximately 20 years.
Regarding the matter involving money bills, Sibal suggested prioritizing it as it remains a “live issue.” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, suggested that priority should not be determined by “political exigencies” and instead be left to the bench’s discretion.
In the Nabam Rebia verdict, the five-judge Constitution bench ruled that the speaker or deputy speaker of the house cannot decide on pleas for lawmaker disqualification when there are existing complaints against them.
On October 6, the Supreme Court announced its intention to form a seven-judge bench to examine the validity of the passage of laws like the Aadhaar Act as money bills. This pertains to controversies surrounding the classification of legislations as money bills, such as the Aadhaar Bill and amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, which were introduced as money bills to bypass the Rajya Sabha.
A money bill can only be introduced in the Lok Sabha, and the Rajya Sabha can make recommendations, but it cannot amend or reject it. In November 2019, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had referred the issue of examining the validity of the passage of the Finance Act, 2017 as a money bill to a larger bench.