Explain how the bench system works in High Courts and Supreme Court in India. Also highlight the composition and relative importance of division benches and Constitutional benches.

A bench is a method of organisation of judges in High courts and Supreme Court of India. As High Courts and Supreme Court have several judges, and it’s difficult and impractical to hear the cases by all judges and also difficult to deliver judgement in simple cases. So, the Registry in the court along with the Chief Justice, organise the judges into “benches”, i.e. groups of 2 or more judges to hear particular matters are organised as divisional bench.
The significance of Division bench is that more number of cases can be handled in less time.  Generally, most of the high courts are provided with permanent benches and high court handles most of the cases through it or braches of the court situated there only. To serve the complaints of remote regions the High court may establish circuit benches
The Supreme Court has many benches for the litigation. Among those the important is constitutional bench.  Article 145 (3) form the basis for constitutional bench. Constitutional bench consists of judge’s not less than five members. The main purpose of the constitutional bench is to decide any case involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of constitution. For example, recent judgement of Right to privacy as a Fundamental right is given by constitutional bench as it involves the interpretation of Fundamental rights.
Constitutional benches also formed in the matters related to Article 143 that is president seeking advice from Supreme Court. The importance of constitutional bench is that it helps to ensure authoritative verdicts in complicated cases as more number of judges are involved.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Explain how the bench system works in High Courts and Supreme Court in India. Also highlight the composition and relative importance of division benches and Constitutional benches.

Published: September 24, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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