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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 8 March 2021. However, cases disposed of till 1 January, 2022 have been excluded from the dataset. A culmination of this exercise found that there are 35 main constitution bench matters pending before the Supreme Court. Since quite often, one case might dispose of multiple connected matters, a total of 587 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


Vivek Narayan Sharma v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 906/2016

Timeline

  1. Date of institution of Writ Petition
  2. Date for reference to a five-judge bench
  3. Last date of hearing
    Current Status: Pending constitution of a five-judge bench.

Bench Composition

Bench Status

Last listed before
Hon’ble Justice Vineet Saran
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Hon’ble Justice Vineet Saran

  • Graduated from Allahabad University in the year 1976 and obtained LL.B. Degree in the year 1979/80.
  • Enrolled as an advocate with the U.P. Bar Council on 28.07.1980.
  • Practised in the Allahabad High Court from 28.07.1980 to 13.02.2002 on the original, constitution, civil and criminal sides, Conducted cases for various private and public sector.
  • Worked Companies and also as special counsel for the Central and State Governments.
  • Served as Additional Advocate General for the State of U.P. in the year1995.
  • Elevated as permanent Judge on 14.02.2002.
  • Took oath as Judge of Karnataka High Court on 16.02.2015

Background

The present case relates to the decision of the Indian government to demonetise notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 through a Notification dated 08-11-2016 (in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 26(2) of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934
The matter was heard by the Supreme Court and a division bench of Hon’ble Justices A. M. Khanwilkar and D. Y. Chandrachud decided to refer the matter to a five-judge bench.

Questions of law

1

Is the notification dated 08-11-2016 ultra vires Section 26(2) and Sections 7, 17, 23, 24, 29 and 42 of the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934?

2

Does the notification contravene the provisions of Article 300A of the Constitution?

3

Assuming that the notification has been validly issued under the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, is it ultra vires Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution?

4

Does the limit on withdrawal of cash from the funds deposited in bank accounts have no basis in law and violates Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution?

5

Does the implementation of the impugned notification(s) suffer from procedural and/or substantive unreasonableness and thereby violates Articles 14 and 19 and, if so, to what effect?

6

In the event that Section 26(2) is held to permit demonetization, does it suffer from excessive delegation of legislative power thereby rendering it ultra vires the Constitution?

7

What is the scope of judicial review in matters relating to fiscal and economic policy of the Government?

8

Is a petition by a political party on the issues raised is maintainable under Article 32?

9

Have District Co-operative Banks been discriminated against by excluding them from accepting deposits and exchanging demonetized notes?
Petitioner’s Arguments
  • The RBI must assure that the entire amount that is offered by the District Co-operative Banks for exchange after due verification in the form of demonitised notes will be duly replaced with legal tender notes.
  • The exemption period for use of demonetised notes had expired as per the relevant notification and the same were not allowed to be used even in case of emergency citations like hospitalisation, travel by railways or air etc.
  • The denial of Right to Withdraw as per RBI Notification was raised. The government had issued such notification after due consideration and was obligated to ensure its commitment made under the said notification without any exception. The ground reality was that Banks were refusing to allow payment of the full amount on the ground of non-availability of enough volume of legal tender currency.
Respondent’s Arguments
  • Financial Policy has been adopted on the basis of experience

  • With respect to District Co-operative Banks, the respondent argued that three was an apprehension that demonetised notes were being converted or exchanged without proper audit, control or supervision, especially since these banks were not directly under the control of the RBI but within the preview of NABARD.

  • The dispensation provided by NABARD was not in conformity with the strict regime provided under the provisions of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and the RBI Act, 1934

  • The Attorney General presented written instructions received by the Under Secretary to the Government of India dated 14-12-2016 according to which, the policy of replacement of the legal tender notes as applicable to public Sector Banks and other Banks will be applied even in case of District Co-operative Banks.

  • The Government argued that it would take around 50 days time to streamline the cash flow and the period had not been exhausted at the time the case was being heard.

  • It also contended that 40% of the demonitised notes already deposited with the Banks have been infused with the new legal tender notes in form of Rs. 500 and Rs. 2000.

  • The authorities would try their best to defuse the crisis of the cash flow situation by printing new notes. The government could not print notes in advance because the nature of the decision taken was to unearth black money or unaccounted money, to dry up the terror fund and end circulation of large scale counterfeit currency. It was imperative to maintain secrecy of such a decision.

Court's reasoning

Keeping in view the general public importance and the far reaching implications which the answers to the questions framed by the bench may have, the Supreme Court considered it proper to direct that the matters be placed before the larger Bench of five judges for an authoritative pronouncement.
No precedents under conflict

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

1

Sangam Lal Pandey v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 908/2016


Diary No. 37674/2016 

09-11-2016

25-11-2016

2

S. Muthukumar v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 913/2016


Diary No. 37814/2016 

11-11-2016

25-11-2016

3

Adil Alvi v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 916/2016 


Diary No. 37892/2016 

11-11-2016

18-11-2016

4

Ketan Tirodkar v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 1026/2016


Diary No. 37946/2016 

11-11-2016

25-11-2016

5

Viplav Sharma v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 943/2016


Diary No. 38056/2016 

15-11-2016

25-11-2016

6

Akhil Anil Chitre v.

Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 929/2016 


Diary No. 38631/2016 

18-11-2016

25-11-2016

7

Kishore Samrite v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 951/2016 


Diary No. 38613/2016

18-11-2016

25-11-2016

8

Yoshma Pathak v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 930/2016 


Diary No. 38699/2016 

19-11-2016

25-11-2016

9

Anjali R. Waghmare v. Union of India through Secretary

W.P.(C) No. 954/2016


Diary No. 38721/2016

19-11-2016

25-11-2016

10

Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 972/2016 


Diary No. 39676/2016 

19-11-2016

NA

11

Union of India v. Shankar Lal Gupta



T.P.(C) No. 1958-1967/2016 


Diary No. 38734/2016 

21-11-2016

23-11-2016

12

Kanhaiya Lal v. Union of India Ministry of Finance through its Secretary

W.P.(C) No. 944/2016


Diary No. 38785/2016

21-11-2016

02-12-2016 

13

Rajesh Punraj Khobragade, Advocate v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 971/2016 


Diary No. 39019/2016

22-11-2016

NA

14

Union of India v. K. Sreedhar

T.P.(C) No. 1982-1996/2016


Diary No. 39054/2016 

23-11-2016

Tagged with T.P (C.) No. 1958-1967 of 2016 on05-12-2016 which is tagged with the main matter.

15

N.K. Kumar v. Government of India, Ministry of Finance Department of Economic Affairs, Rep. by Secretary

W.P.(C) No. 953/2016 


Diary No. 39121/2016

23-11-2016

02-12-2016

16

Communist Party of India (Marxist) v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 952/2016 


Diary No. 39055/2016 

23-11-2016

25-11-2016

17

Idukki District Cooperative Bank Limited v. Reserve Bank of India Represented by its Governor

W.P.(C) No. 957/2016 


Diary No. 39312/2016 

25-11-2016

02-12-2016

18

Thrissur District Cooperative Bank Limited President Shri M.K. Abdul Salam v. Reserve Bank of India Governor

W.P.(C) No. 958/2016 


Diary No. 39311/2016 

25-11-2016

02-12-2016

19

Union of India v. Neeraj Tiwari

T.P.(C) No. 2018-2022/2016 


Diary No. 39490/2016 

26-11-2016

02-12-2016

20

Ashok Sharma v. Union of India

SLP(C) No. 35356/2016


Diary No. 39561/2016



28-11-2016

05-12-2016

21

Union of India v. K.N. Vijayakumar

T.P.(C) No. 2030-2038/2016


Diary No. 39860/2016 

30-11-2016

NA

22

Arvind Kumar Shukla v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 978/2016


Diary No. 39991/2016 

01-12-2016

NA

23

National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 1025/2016


Diary No. 40114/2016

02-12-2016

NA

24

Ashok Sharma v. Union of India

SLP(C) No. 35805/2016


Diary No. 40260/2016 

03-12-2016

NA

25

Noida Lok Manch v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 997/2016


Diary No. 40268/2016 

05-12-2016

16-12-2016

26

Mrs. Sito v. Union of India Ministry of Finance through its Secretary

W.P.(C) No. 1008/2016


Diary No. 40595/2016 

06-12-2016

NA

27

Veena Rani v. Union of India Ministry of Finance through its Secretary

W.P.(C) No. 1009/2016


Diary No. 40597/2016 

06-12-2016

NA

28

Isharat v. Union of India Ministry of Finance through its Secretary

W.P.(C) No. 1010/2016


Diary No. 40596/2016 

06-12-2016

NA

29

Reena Devi v. Union of India Ministry of Finance Secretary

W.P.(C) No. 1011/2016


Diary No. 40598/2016 

06-12-2016

NA

30

District Central Cooperative Bank Limited Represented by its Chairman Mr. Preetpal Belchandan v. Reserve Bank of India Represented by its Governor

W.P.(C) No. 996/2016


Diary No. 40824/2016 

08-12-2016

NA

31

Nazia Elahi Khan v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 1006/2016


Diary No. 41229/2016 

10-12-2016

NA

32

Birender Sangwan v. Union of India

SLP(C) No. 36757/2016


Diary No. 41571/2016

14-12-2016

NA

33

Reserve Bank of India v. Prakasam Dist. Coop. Central Bank Ltd

T.P.(C) No. 47-67/2017 


Diary No. 41735/2016

15-12-2016

04-01-2018

34

Pappinisseri Service Co-Operative Bank Ltd Rep. by its Secretary v. Union of India Rep. by Secretary to the Ministry of Finance (Economic Affairs)

W.P.(C) No. 40/2017


Diary No. 42073/2016 

16-12-2016

17-02-2017

35

Mowanchery Co-Operative Rural Bank Ltd. Rep. by its Secretary v. Union of India Rep. by Secretary to the Ministry of Finance Economic Affairs

W.P.(C) No. 41/2017


Diary No. 42221/2016 

19-12-2016

NA

36

Madai Co-Operative Rural Bank Ltd v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 47/2017


Diary No. 42220/2016 

19-12-2016

NA

37

Procure Logistic Services Private Limited v. Reserve Bank of India

W.P.(C) No. 260/2017


Diary No. 9569/2017 

27-03-2017

21-01-2019

38

Bisarniya Gram Seva Shakari Samiti Ltd v. Union of India

T.P.(C) No. 607/2017


Diary No. 10050/2017 

30-03-2017

Tagged with T.P. (C.) No. 582 of 2017 on17-04-2017 which is tagged with the main matter.

39

Purava Gram Seva Shakari Samiti Ltd. Manager (Vyvasthapak) v. Union of India Ministry Of Finance (Economic Affairs)

T.P.(C) No. 588/2017


Diary No. 10055/2017 

30-03-2017

Tagged with T.P. (C.) No. 582 of 2017 on17-04-2017 which is tagged with the main matter.

40

Bamnor Gram Seva Shakari Samiti Ltd v. Union of India Ministry of Finance

T.P.(C) No. 585/2017 


Diary No. 10059/2017 

30-03-2017

Tagged with T.P. (C.) No. 582 of 2017 on17-04-2017 which is tagged with the main matter.

41

Khudala Gram Seva Shakari Samiti Ltd v. Union of India

T.P.(C) No. 582/2017


Diary No. 10061/2017 

30-03-2017

17-04-2017

42

Bhimthal Gram Seva Shakari Samiti Ltd v. Union of India Ministry of Finance

T.P.(C) No. 626/2017


Diary No. 10057/2017 

30-03-2017

Tagged with T.P. (C.) No. 582 of 2017 on17-04-2017 which is tagged with the main matter.

43

Mangta Gram Seva Shakari Samiti Ltd v. Union of India Ministry of Finance Principal Secretary

T.P.(C) No. 638/2017


Diary No. 10062/2017 

30-03-2017

Tagged with T.P. (C.) No. 582 of 2017 on15-04-2017 which is tagged with the main matter.

44

Dudhu Gram Seva Shakari Samiti Ltd v. Union of India

T.P.(C) No. 659/2017


Diary No. 10063/2017 

30-03-2017

Tagged with T.P. (C.) No. 582/2017 on24-04-2017 which is tagged with the main matter.

45

Shikha Oberoi v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 223/2017


Diary No. 10264/2017 

31-03-2017

13-04-2017

46

Tamil Nadu Centre for Public Interest Litigation, Rep. by K.K. Ramesh v.

Union of India, Rep. by its Principal Secretary to Prime Minister

T.C.(C) No. 9/2017


Diary No. 12263/2017 

18-04-2017

NA

47

Sewaniyala Gram Sewa Sahakari Samiti Ltd v. State of Rajasthan

SLP(C) No. 14131/2017


Diary No. 13077/2017 

24-04-2017

05-05-2017

48

Sanapa Gram Sewa Sahakari Samiti Ltd v. State of Rajasthan through the Principal Secretary

SLP(C) No. 14272/2017


Diary No. 13075/2017

24-04-2017

NA

49

Nausar Gram Sewa Sahakari Samiti Ltd v. State of Rajasthan through the Principal Secretary

SLP(C) No. 14216/2017


Diary No. 13103/2017 

25-04-2017

05-05-2017

50

Abhishek Awasthi v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 568/2018


Diary No. 36113/2017

09-11-2017

02-07-2018

51

Kaushik Chattopadhyay v.

Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 341/2018


Diary No. 5651/2018 

13-02-2018

20-04-2018

52

Janardhan Sahoo v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 193/2018 


Diary No. 7321/2018 



23-02-2018

19-03-2018

53

Sneh Lata v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 316/2018


Diary No. 10686/2018 

21-03-2018

20-04-2018

54

Lamane Infrastructure Private Limited v. Union of India

MA 1552/2018


Diary No. 11708/2018

27-03-2018

20-07-2018

55

Raghunandan Shanker Mathur v.

General Manager Reserve Bank of India

W.P.(C) No. 389/2018 


Diary No. 14709/2018 

17-04-2018

Tagged with W.P.(C) No. 193/201804-05-2018 which is tagged with the main matter.

56

K. Raman v. Reserve Bank of India

W.P.(C) No. 1018/2019


Diary No. 27914/2019 

05-08-2019

30-08-2019

57

District Cooperative Bank Ltd. v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 683/2020


Diary No. 14568/2020 

13-07-2020

16-10-2020

* as of