New Delhi, Oct 12:
The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will pass a common order in several nine-judge and seven-judge bench matters, including those relating to money bills and the speaker’s power to disqualify MLAs, to get them ready for hearing.
A seven-judge bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud took up six seven-judges and four nine-judges matters for consideration. One of the seven-judge bench matters pertains to the correctness of the 2016 Nabam Rebia verdict relating to the speaker’s power on disqualification of MLAs. It was pronounced by a five-judge Constitution bench.
“… The idea is to get these matters ready for hearing. We will pass a common order in all these matters in terms of the circular of August 22, 2023 that the compilation of pleadings, documents and precedents that must be all filed within say… we will give three weeks to everyone,” the CJI said.
“We will appoint nodal counsel in every matter who will then prepare a common compilation,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, Surya Kant, J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.
The bench told the advocates appearing in these matters to give the names of nodal counsel in each case.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who is appearing in some of these matters, requested the bench to indicate the dates for hearing in advance so lawyers could prepare their case.
The CJI said he would look into the calendar of the benches for this.
The bench said the lawyers may indicate the estimated time for a matter.
Many of these matters have been pending for 20 years, it noted.
When the matter relating to money bills came up before the apex court, Sibal requested the bench to consider giving it priority, saying it is a “live issue”.
“We would request, your lordships may go seniority wise. It is entirely my lord’s discretion,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, said. He added that priority cannot be decided based on “political exigencies”.
“Leave it to us,” the bench said.
In the Nabam Rebia verdict, a five-judge Constitution bench had held that the speaker or the deputy speaker of the house is incapacitated from deciding the pleas for disqualification of lawmakers if there are pre-existing complaints against them.
On October 6, the apex court said it would constitute a seven-judge bench to consider the issue of validity of passage of laws like the Aadhaar Act as a money bill.
The issue relates to the controversy around money bills after the government introduced legislations like the Aadhaar Bill and even amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) as money bills, apparently to circumvent the Rajya Sabha where it did not have a majority.
A money bill is a piece of legislation which can be introduced only in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha cannot amend or reject it. The Upper House can only make recommendations which may or may not be accepted by the Lower House.
In November 2019, a five-judge bench of the apex court had referred to a larger bench the issue of examining the validity of the passage of the Finance Act, 2017 as a money bill.
“The issue and question of Money Bill, as defined under Article 110(1) of the Constitution, and certification accorded by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in respect of Part-XIV of the Finance Act, 2017 is referred to a larger Bench,” it had said. (Agencies)