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CHIEF Justice S. H. Kapadia is due to retire on September 29, and the countdown has begun with the CJI winding up by marking important cases before the bench headed by him to other benches and pronouncing judgments in cases already heard by him.

A bench headed by Justice Kapadia cleared the cloud over interpretation of the law on arbitration with its judgment on September 6 and decisions in the case relating to formulation of norms for reporting of court proceedings, the presidential reference and some commercial cases are expected before he hangs his gown.

Justice Kapadia will have to ensure that judgments in cases reserved by benches headed by him are pronounced before he retires. However, there may not be many, as he is not in the habit of keeping his decisions pending for long.

Justice Kapadia's decision on arbitration removed all doubts particularly in the context of trans- border business dealings and the much- awaited opinion on the presidential reference, which was considered by a bench presided over by him, is also likely to clear doubts in the minds of businessmen, apart from its significance in law, politics and governance.

The bench will give its opinion on the mode of allocation of natural resources by the government in the backdrop of an observation by an apex court bench that natural resources could be allotted only through auction.

The opinion would also be of political significance as the presidential reference was based on the February 2 judgment by a division bench of the apex court which, to the embarrassment of the UPA government, quashed 122 2G spectrum licences allotted by the telecom ministry under A. Raja.

The constitution bench judgment on media guidelines is also going to be of significance as it would affect not just the media but common people as well. The guidelines are likely to affect court reporting and also change the face of reporting by crime reporters, touching upon the lives of accused as well as victims. J USTICE Kapadia had shown keen interest in the case relating to media guidelines and had decided to post it before the constitution bench for an out- of- turn hearing -- probably, he was conscious of his impending retirement.

The CJI, who worked relentlessly for streamlining the process of filing and listing of cases to do away with chances of bench- fixing through corrupt means, seemed to have started winding up a bit too soon.

He transferred some key cases being heard by the bench headed by him to other benches.

Though reasons are not known, the transfers could be in view of his impending retirement.

He got out of the Sahara case but the other bench which heard the case managed to wind up the hearing and even pronounce its judgment directing return of money to investors.

Justice Kapadia, after hearing a PIL against former CJI K. G. Balakrishnan for quite some time, posted the matter before another bench. The PIL was subsequently dismissed by the new bench.

Justice Kapadia posted before other benches cases pertaining to the ban on endosulfan, BT crops, pollution in the Yamuna and some other cases which were heard by him.

What came as a surprise to many, he decided to walk out of the forest bench which had been traditionally headed by the CJI. He constituted a new forest bench of which he is not a part.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 10, 2012
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