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Supreme Court Data Portal

History of Constitution Benches

Under Article 145(3) of the Constitution, matters ‘involving a ­substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution’ are required to be decided by a minimum of five judges. These benches of the Supreme Court, often involving five, seven or nine judges, are called Constitution Benches.

Over the course of India’s history, these Constitution Benches have settled key questions involving individual rights and separation of powers thereby fundamentally shaping India’s rule of law framework. Some key issues such as the immutable nature of the fundamental rights under the Indian Constitution (Kesavananda Bharti v State of Kerala), limitation on the imposition of President’s Rule (S.R. Bommai v Union of India), clarifications on the law on personal liberties (Maneka Gandhi v Union of India) and deciding how territorial boundaries of India’s states should be demarcated (In re: Berubari Union) have been decided by Constitution Benches.

In the recent past too, they have been the harbinger of progressive change. Some of these landmark cases involve the decriminalisation of homosexuality (Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India), the declaration of the right to privacy as a fundamental right (Justice (Retd.) K.S. Puttaswamy v Union of India) and the declaration of the ban on women of all ages from entering the Sabarimala temple as violative of their fundamental rights (Indian Young Lawyers Association v State of Kerala).

Previous research on Constitution Benches

While a significant amount of literature has been individually published about the jurisprudence these landmark cases helped create, empirical research on the functioning of these benches is few and far between. Recognising this lacuna, Nick Robinson and others conducted a study, a decade ago, examining all the constitution benches that had been set up since India’s independence until the end of 2009. The research studied voting patterns, the length of judgments, foreign citations and winning party among others. In the recent past, shorter pieces that examine the judgments delivered by these benches have also been published. There is also an ongoing project which studies the Supreme Court, which in its research also touches upon constitution benches. However, none of the above studies comprehensively examine all the cases pending before these benches or conduct an analysis of the associated aggregate statistics. This Constitution Bench Pendency Project is an attempt to plug this gap.

Pendency before the Constitution Bench

As a part of the process of consolidating the cases before it, the Supreme Court now regularly publishes statistics on the number of pending cases, including the number of pending constitution bench cases. These numbers are also bifurcated into the number of main and connected matters. The itemised list on the other hand, is available at the terminal cause list published on the website. Unfortunately however, during the course of our research we found that the list of cases on the terminal causelist fluctuated sporadically without any of the missing cases being heard in court. To ensure a fixity and authority in numbers, we filed an RTI application with the Supreme Court. The results in the present portal reflect the cases pending before the Supreme Court as on 17 November 2022. However, cases disposed of till 7 November, 2022 have been excluded from the dataset. A culmination of this exercise found that there are 45 main constitution bench matters pending before the Supreme Court. Since quite often, one case might dispose of multiple connected matters, a total of 612 cases are pending before these benches.

The JALDI Constitution Bench Tracker

The present tracker examines these cases and hopes to provide the user an in-depth understanding of each of these cases in an accessible form. For every case, the portal explainsthe timelines of events and orders, information on facts, questions of law, arguments, precedents and legislations under challenge. The further readings section hopes to act as a resource for those individuals looking to explore these cases in even more detail. The portal also charts the tagged matters and the pendencies. Since the research mentioned above has found that the number of these benches has consistently dwindled over time, we hope that this portal highlights the need for this particular aspect of the Supreme Court’s pendency to be addressed with gravity. We think that these cases require special emphasis since they involve critical questions of law that only the Supreme Court in its judgment and eminence can resolve.

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Acknowledgments

A large team worked to turn the Constitution Bench Pendency Project (“Project”) into a reality. Prashant Reddy T. (former Lead, Justice, Access and Lowering Delays in India Initiative (JALDI) at Vidhi) and Nayantara Vohra (former Associate Fellow, JALDI) were part of the initial stages of this project including scoping the cases from the terminal list and collating the orders from the Supreme Court website. 

Apoorva (Research Fellow) and Vaidehi Misra (Senior Resident Fellow), under the guidance of Deepika Kinhal (Team Lead and Senior Resident Fellow) led the project in conceptualising and designing the process for creating summaries of these cases. 

Along with them, Aditya Ranjan and Shreya Tripathy (Research Fellows) and Reshma Sekhar (Senior Resident Fellow) helped review the cases that were summarised by the Kautilya Fellows. Vidhi’s Kautilya Society chapters in various law schools across the country are designed to work both independently as well as with Vidhi researchers on real-world research projects.

The following Kautilya Fellows were instrumental to the preparation of this project and the JALDI team would like to thank them for their immense contribution. They are: Abin Thomas Alex, Adhipatya Singh, Akanksha Yadav, Amrashaa Singh, Ankita Gupta, Anukriti Randev, Arjun Butani, Prajwal Venkatesh, Sanskruti Yagnik, Shivani Jaideep Karnik and Soumya Jain. Sanjeev Gumpenapalli, an intern at Vidhi Karnataka also assisted in the research.

Naxcent has helped design and execute our ideas into the format of the Portal. Finally, the JALDI team would like to thank ATECF and the Tree of Life Foundation for the support and grant under which this Project has been funded. 


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Raw Case Summaries

Case Link to Summary
Kantaru Rajeevaru v. Indian Young Lawyers Association
Mineral Area Development Authority etc. v. M/S Steel Authority of India
Property Owners Association v. State of Maharashtra
State of Uttar Pradesh v. M/s. Lalta Prasad Vaish
State of Uttar Pradesh v. Jai Bir Singh
Aligarh Muslim University v. Naresh Agarwal
Arjun Flour Mills v. State of Orissa
N. Ravi v. Speaker, Legislative Assembly, Chennai
Rojer Mathew v. South Indian Bank Limited
The State of Punjab v. Davinder Singh
Animal Welfare Board of India v. Union of India
Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India, Ministry of Law and Justice Secretary
Ashok Kumar Jain v. Union of India
Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India
Assam Public Works v. Union of India
Bar Council of India v. Bonnie Foi Law College
C.B.I. v. Dr. R.R. Kishore
Central Board of Dawoodi Bohra Community v. State of Maharashtra
Janhit Abhiyan v. Union of India
Karmanya Singh Sareen v. Union of India
Kaushal Kishore v. State of Uttar Pradesh
M/s Shanti Fragrances v. Union of India
Mukesh Kumar v. V. K. Singh
Pyare Lal v. State of Haryana
Shilpa Sailesh v. Varun Sreenivasan
Sita Soren v. Union of India
State of Andhra Pradesh v. B. Archana Reddy
State of Punjab v. Sahil Mittal
State of West Bengal v. Paschim Banga BK Samity
Sukhpal Singh Khaira v. State of Punjab
Suvarna Paka Jagga Rao v. Chebrolu Leela Prasad Rao
Tej Prakash Pathak v. Rajasthan High Court
Union of India v. Union Carbide Corporation
Union of India v. Preeti Agarwal
Vivek Narayan Sharma v. Union of India


Aligarh Muslim University v. Naresh Agarwal

C.A. No. 2286/2006

Timeline

  1. Judgment of the single judge of the Allahabad High Court
  2. Judgment of the division bench of the Allahabad High Court
  3. Date of institution of Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court
  4. Order granting leave and reference to a three-judge bench
  5. Date for reference to a seven-judge bench
  6. Last date of hearing
    Current Status: This case is to be listed after Property Owners Association v. State of Maharashtra (C.A. No. 1012/2002) which has to be decided by a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court.

Bench Composition

Bench Status

Last listed before
Hon’ble Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi
Hon’ble Justice
L. Nageswara Rao
Hon’ble Justice Sanjiv Khanna
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Hon’ble Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi

  • Born on 18th November, 1954.
  • Joined the Bar in 1978.
  • Practised mainly in the Gauhati High Court.
  • Appointed as Permanent Judge of Gauhati High Court on 28th February, 2001.
  • Transferred to Punjab & Haryana High Court on 9th September, 2010.
  • Appointed as Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court on 12th February, 2011
  • Elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court on 23rd April, 2012.
  • Appointed as The Chief Justice of India on 03.10.2018.

Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara Rao

  • Born on 08.06.1957 at Chirala, Prakasam District, Andhra Pradesh..
  • Did his B.Com., B.L., from Nagarjuna University, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
  • Enrolled as an Advocate on 29.07.1982 at Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh.
  • From July, 1982 to January, 1984 practiced at the District Court, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
  • From January, 1985 to December, 1994 practiced at the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, at Hyderabad.
  • From January 1995 to May, 2016 practiced at the Supreme Court of India.
  • Designated as a Senior Advocate by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in December, 2000.
  • Served as Additional Solicitor General of India from August 2003 to May, 2004 and again from 26.08.2013 to 18.12.2014.
  • Appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 13.05.2016.

Hon’ble Justice Sanjiv Khanna

  • Born on 14th May, 1960.
  • he had his early education in Delhi before graduating from the University of Delhi in 1980 After studing Law from the Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, he was enrolled as an Advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1983
  • Beginning his practice in the District Courts at Tis Hazari in Delhi, he soon shifted and primarily practiced in the Delhi High Court
  • His field of work was wide and varied from writ petitions in public law matters, direct tax appeals, income tax prosecutions, arbitration cases, commercial suits, environment and pollution laws matters, besides medical negligence cases before consumer forums and company law cases before the Company Law Board
  • As an Additional Public Prosecutor representing the Government of Delhi and Amicus Curie, he had argued criminal cases in the Delhi High Court. On appointment as the Senior Standing Counsel he had appeared and argued cases for the Income Tax Department for about seven years. In 2004, he was appointed as the Standing Counsel (Civil) for the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi in the Delhi High Court.
  • On 24th June, 2005 he was elevated as an additional Judge of the Delhi High Court and became a permanent Judge of the Delhi High Court on 20th February, 2006.
  • He was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 18th January, 2019.

Background

In 1920, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was established through an eponymous central legislation, primarily for the education of Muslims. The assets of the pre-existent Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College (MAO) and the Muslim University Association were transferred to the new AMU and the organisations themselves were dissolved. The 1920 Act provided that only Muslims could be members of the university court (the supreme governing body of the university).

Amendments were made in 1951 and 1965 which removed this restriction and allowed non-Muslims to become members of the university court

In 1968, The Supreme Court in held that, to qualify as a minority institution under Art. 30, the institution has to be both established and administered by a minority. AMU was not a minority institution as it was established by an Act of the legislature.
In 1981, an Amendment Act was passed, which among other things, retrospectively redefined the term “University” under Section 2(l) of the Aligarh Muslim University Act, 1920 to mean “the educational institution of their choice established by the Muslims of India, which originated as the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, Aligarh, and which was subsequently incorporated as the Aligarh Muslim University”. It also inserted Section 5(2)(c) which stated that the University was empowered to specifically promote educational and cultural advancement of Muslims
In 2005, AMU decided to reserve 50% seats of their post-graduate medical courses for Muslim candidates. In reply to several written petitions that were filed against this, the Allahabad High Court reaffirmed that AMU was not a minority institution and found the reservation of 50% seats to be unconstitutional
This was appealed against, in front of division bench of the Allahabad High Court (unsuccessfully) and then in front of a 3 judge bench of the Supreme Court, which ruled that a larger bench had to be constituted to evaluate the correctness of the principles set out in Azeez Basha and address relevant questions regarding minority institutions.

Questions of law

1

What are the indicia for treating an educational institution as a minority educational institution?

2

Is the Aligarh Muslim University a “minority educational institution”, and consequently, can it reserve 50% (or any number) of its seats for Muslim students?

3

Would an institution be regarded as a minority educational institution because it was established by a person(s) belonging to a religious or linguistic minority or its being administered by a person(s) belonging to a religious or linguistic minority?

4

Is the decision in Azeez Basha v. Union of India (AIR 1968 SC 662) legally correct?
Appellant’s Arguments
  • That administrative control of the University should not have a bearing on its minority status. Governmental control over the university, being merely regulatory, does not destroy the minority character of the institution (as held in T.M.A. Pai Foundation v. State Of Karnataka [(2002) 8 SCC 481]).


  • That Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College (MAO) and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) are the same entity and the incorporation of MAO into AMU is merely superficial. 


  • That the Parliament was competent to enact the 1981 Amendment as the AMU is a subject under the Union List (Entry 63 of List I, VII Schedule) and that within prescribed limits, the legislature had the power to make both prospective and retrospective laws. The Amendment Act was introduced in exercise of this power. 


  • That the legislature was competent to change the basis of a judicial decision rendering a judgement ineffective (as held in Sri Prithvi Cotton Mills Limited v. Broach Borough Municipality Bakhtawar Trust [(1969) 2 SCC 283]. The basis of the decision in Azeez Basha was that it was not established by the minority, and the Amendment Act changed that by inserting s. 2(l). Further, the Amendment Act was a “retrospective declaration” of historical facts that clarified previous ambiguities. 
Respondent’s Arguments
  • That the amendments made to the Act in 1981 were a “brazen overruling” of the judgement in Azeez Basha v. Union of India, and the Legislature was not permitted to directly overrule the judgment of a court.

  • That the finding in Azeez Basha that Muslims had not established AMU cannot be changed by any declaratory statute (referring to the inclusion of “established by the Muslims of India”).

  • That the word “establish” here meant to “bring into existence” as understood in "Article 26(a) and 28(2)". which the Muslim minority did not satisfy as the University was brought into existence through an Act of the Parliament, with governmental control.

  • While the judgement in T.M.A. Pai talks about administrative control not impacting the minority character of an institution, it does not address the issue of establishment, and its implication on minority status. Azeez Basha addresses this, and not being contrary to anything stated in T.M.A Pai in this regard, is binding.

Court's reasoning

The Supreme Court in its referral order observed that the question regarding the parameters that an institution had to fulfill to be recognised as a “minority institution” had been referred to a seven judge bench of the Supreme Court earlier, but had not been authoritatively answered. Further, the principle that to avail protection under Art. 30, an institution had to mandatorily be established by the minority (a textual reading of Art. 30) as propounded in Art. 30, an institution had to mandatorily be established by the minority (a textual reading of Art. 30) as propounded in Azeez Basha required re-evaluation.
The decision of the Court in Prof. Yashpal v. State of Chhattisgarh [(2005) 5 SCC 420] and the amendment of the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, 2004 made in the year 2010 also required a more authoritative pronouncement.

Sr No. Cause Title Case No. Date of Institution Date of Tagging Pending For*

1

Haji Muqeet Ali Quershi v.

Malay Shukla

C.A. No. 2316/2006


SLP(C) No. 7872/2006


Diary No. 7664/2006

22-03-2006

25-03-2010
Heard with the main matter for the first time on

 

2

Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association

v. Naresh Agarwal

C.A. No.2861/2006


SLP(C) No.11047/2006


Diary No.9024/2006

05-04-2006

09-03-2011


 

3

Aligarh Muslim University through its Registrar Faizan Mustafa v

Gupta

C.A. No. 2321/2006


Diary No. 9276/2006


SLP(C) No. 6872/2006

08-04-2006

24-04-2006

 

4

Aligarh Muslim University v.

Malay Shukla

C.A. No. 2319/2006


SLP(C) No. 7876/2006


Diary No. 9280/2006

08-04-2006

25-03-2010
Heard with the main matter for the first time on

 

5

Aligarh Muslim University

v. Vivek Kisana

C.A. No. 2320/2006


SLP(C) No. 7877/2006


Diary No. 9282/2006

08-04-2006

25-03-2010
Heard with the main matter for the first time on  

 

6

Aligarh Muslim University

v. Manvendra Singh

C.A. No. 2317/2006


SLP(C) No. 7874/2006 


Diary No. 9286/2006/p>

09-04-2006

NA

 

7

Union of India through its

Secretary v. Malay Shukla

C.A. No. 2318/2006


SLP(C) No. 7875/2006


Diary No. 10285/2006

19-04-2006

25-03-2010
Heard with the main matter for the first time on  

 

8

Syed Abrar Ahmand v.

Aligarh Muslim University

SLP(C) No. 32490/2015


Diary No. 37307/2015

04-11-2015

06-12-2016

 

9

Ashraf Mateen v. Aligar

Muslim University

W.P.(C) No. 272/2016


Diary No. 15158/2016

29-04-2016

09/05/2016

Tagged to Syed Abrar Ahmand v. Aligarh Muslim University which was tagged to the main matter on
06/12/2016
 

* as of