The court noted that these were matters which could not be resolved by the application of judicial standards, and would have to be taken up on the administrative side of the Supreme Court.
THE Supreme Court on Thursday held that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) could not assert a right to the entirety of the land admeasuring 1.33 acres which had been allotted by the Union government for housing the Supreme Court Archives, for converting it into a chamber block for lawyers.
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices S.K. Kaul and P.S. Narasimha passed the order to this effect while dismissing the petition filed by the SCBA seeking land for the construction of chambers for lawyers.
“SCBA cannot assert a right to the entirety of the land admeasuring 1.33 acres, which has been allotted by the Union government for housing the Supreme Court Archives, for converting it into a chamber block for lawyers. The Supreme Court of India discharges both judicial and administrative functions. The discharge of its functions implicates diverse stakeholders including lawyers, litigants and the staff engaged in activities of the Supreme Court. A holistic view has to be taken on the allocation of available resources by balancing the needs of stakeholders both for the present and the future,” the bench held.
It added that these were matters which could not be resolved by the application of judicial standards and would have to be taken up on the administrative side of the Supreme Court.
“Administrative functioning and decision-making, which the current issue requires, cannot be moved to the judicial side. Apart from prayer ‘a’ which seeks the conversion of the entirety of the land admeasuring 1.33 acres to a chamber block for lawyers, the petitioners have also sought the conversion of the entire area around Supreme Court as a Supreme Court Block so that all buildings across the Supreme Court on Bhagwan Das Road can be utilized for conversion to lawyers’ chambers. The petitioner has also sought the allotment of a government bungalow presently occupied by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club to the petitioner. Such directions cannot be issued on the judicial side,” the bench underscored.
It thus held that it was unable to subscribe to the reliefs which had been sought in the petition under Article 32 of the Constitution. The bench, however, left it open to the Supreme Court, on its administrative side, to take appropriate decisions bearing in mind the needs of the institution for the present and the future, and the interest of all stakeholders.
“The process of decision making would also involve consultation with the Bar. [The Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association], SCBA and [the Bar Council of India] would be at liberty to address the issue with their representations on the administrative side,” the bench said.
On March 2 this year, the SCBA president and senior advocate Vikas Singh had a fiery exchange with CJI over the allotment matter. Rebuking Singh for raising his voice and threatening the court with protests, CJI Dr Chandrachud had said he would not be cowed down.
“You will be treated like an ordinary litigant,” the CJI had said, asking Singh to leave the court. Singh was in the CJI’s court to mention the plea on allotment of chambers. The CJI directed to list it on March 19, but Singh insisted that it be listed as the first item, which the CJI flatly refused. The matter was eventually heard on March 17.