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Thursday, May 13, 2010
Change of guard takes SC by surprise - CJI Kapadia Hears 37 Cases In 29 Mins; Frivolous PILs To Incur Costs
Justice S H Kapadia marked the inauguration of his tenure as Chief Justice of India on a stunning note by reversing a longheld practice of morning mentioning of urgent matters by lawyers. Later, he went a step ahead and said all frivolous PILs would incur costs from Thursday. If that was not enough to announce change of guard, he also conducted hearings into 37 cases in 29 minutes flat. Within hours of assuming office, CJI Kapadia virtually stunned a crowd of advocates who had queued up before a three-judge Bench headed by him for mentioning petitions/applications for urgent listing, a long-standing practice, by bluntly telling them that henceforth, there would be no mentioning out of turn in the morning. The silence that followed was audible. For just a minute back, the CJI sworn in by President Patil on Wednesday morning was being congratulated and being promised cooperation from attorney general GE Vahanvati and Bar Council of India chairman and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam. When advocate KK Mani did the same on behalf of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), a smiling Justice Kapadia said, You are a good Bar. But I want a proactive Bar, not a reactive one. But what followed after the silencing of the usually vociferous advocates queuing up for morning mentioning was equally stunning. There were 37 petitions listed for hearing before the Bench headed by the CJI and comprising Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar. The preliminary hearing in all of them were over in just 29 minutes. Many a lawyer who had work in other courts was seen inquiring whether the CJIs court was yet to sit. But when told that the days business in CJIs court was over, there was disbelief writ large on their faces. During the hearing, the CJI made clear his no-nonsense fast-track approach. No more frivolous PILs. This is the first day,so we are not imposing costs. But from Thursday, costs would be imposed on such PILs, Justice Kapadia said. But amid the no-fuss approach, the CJI also showed his humane side. In a matter relating to revival of a sick unit, the CJI made it clear that all workers who had lost their jobs had to be accommodated first and permission to commence production would be given only on this condition. We will see that workers do not lose their jobs, he said.