Delhi vs Centre ‘Services’ Row: Supreme Court’s “Green Bench” To Decide

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A constitution bench of the Supreme Court will go “completely paperless” for the first time when it adjudicates the contentious issue of the scope of powers of the Centre and the Delhi government over control of services, Justice DY Chandrachud said on Wednesday.
The top court said the five-judge constitution bench will on September 27 fix the timeline for hearing and told the senior lawyers representing the parties that no bulky case files will be allowed in the courtroom.

Justice Chandrachud said it will be a “green bench” and no papers will be used or relied upon during the proceedings.

“Everybody will have a common scanned copy. It will make life easy for all of us,” he said.

The bench, also comprising Justices M R Shah, Krishna Murari, Hima Kohli and P S Narasimha, said it would tentatively start hearing the matter concerning the scope of legislative and executive powers of the Centre and the Delhi government by mid-October.

The observation came after lawyers said a constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India U U Lalit will start hearing from September 13 pleas on the validity of the Centre’s decision to grant 10 per cent reservation to economically weaker sections (EWS) in admissions and jobs through the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2019.

The bench was informed that many senior lawyers appearing in the Delhi-Centre row case will be arguing in the EWS matter as well and they should therefore be accommodated.

The court said it will list the matter on September 27 for directions on how it will proceed further, looking at the stage of hearing in the EWS matter.

Justice Chandrachud directed the registry to scan all the relevant material, including books, case laws and written submissions to be submitted by the lawyers and circulate to all of them.

The bench asked advocates Shadan Farasat and Parmesh Mishra, appearing for the Delhi government and the Centre, respectively, to get their compilations ready and submit them to the court master for scanning and circulation.

The top court, especially the bench of Justice Chandrachud, has recently been insisting on use of scanned copies by the lawyers instead of relying on bulky case files and books.

Justice Chandrachud had, during a hearing on Tuesday, said he would talk to Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh to hold a training session for lawyers on the use of technology in court proceedings during the October holidays of the court.

On August 22, the apex court had said a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Chandrachud has been set up to hear the matter of control of services in Delhi.

The apex court had said the limited issue of control over services was not dealt with by the constitution bench which elaborately considered all other legal questions.

“The limited issue that has been referred to this Bench relates to the scope of legislative and executive powers of the Centre and NCT Delhi with respect to the term services. The Constitution bench of this court, while interpreting Article 239AA(3)(a) of the Constitution, did not find any occasion to specifically interpret the impact of the wordings of the same with respect to Entry 41 in the State List.

“We, therefore, deem it appropriate to refer to the above-limited question, for an authoritative pronouncement by a Constitution Bench…,” it had said.

Sub Article 3(a) of 239AA deals with the law-making power of the Delhi Legislative Assembly on matters enumerated in the State List or the Concurrent List.

On February 14, 2019, a two-judge bench had recommended to the chief justice of India that a three-judge bench be set up to finally decide the issue of control of services in the national capital in view of its split verdict.

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