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.



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. 


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

Bar Council of India v. Bonnie Foi Law College

SLP(C) No. 22337/2008


  1. Impugned order of the High Court
  2. Date of institution of the Special Leave Petition
  3. Date of reference to five-judge bench
  4. Last date of hearing
    Current Status: Pending

Bench Composition

Bench Status

Last listed before
Hon'ble Mr. Justice
V. Ramasubramanian

Hon’ble Justice V. Ramasubramanian

  • Born on June 30, 1958. Graduated in Chemistry from Ramakrishna Mission, Vivekananda College, Chennai
  • Studied Law in the Madras Law College.
  • Enrolled as a member of the Bar on February 16, 1983. Practiced for about 23 years in the High Court of Madras which included a stint in the office of the Senior Advocates K. Sarvabhauman and T.R. Mani for four years from 1983 to 1987
  • Appointed as an Additional Judge of the Madras High Court on July 31, 2006 and as a permanent Judge on November 9, 2009.
  • Transferred on his own request to the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh with effect from April 27, 2016.
  • After the bifurcation and the creation of a separate High Court for the State of Andhra Pradesh, was retained as a Judge of the High Court of Telangana at Hyderabad w.e.f January 1, 2019.
  • Was sworn in as the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court on June 22, 2019. Appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of India on September 23, 2019.


This Special Leave Petition filed by the Bar Council of India (BCI) raises serious questions regarding affiliation and recognition of Law Colleges by the BCI. In one of its orders, the Supreme Court noted that it was a part of common knowledge that before granting affiliation or recognition, proper steps were not taken.
Looking at the gravity and seriousness of the matter, the court requested the Solicitor General and the President of the Bar Association and the Chairman, BCI to look into the matter seriously and submit a report to the Apex Court. The Committee gave a comprehensive report and pointed out a number of shortcomings n the infrastructure and functioning of Bonnie Foi Law College.
During the course of the proceedings, the BCI decided to introduce the Bar Examination. This step by the BCI led to the issues that have been referred to the Constitution Bench by the Supreme Court.

Questions of law


Could pre-enrollment training in terms of Bar Council of India Training Rules, 1995 under Section 24(3)(d) of the Advocates Act, 1961 be validly prescribed by the Bar Council of India and if so whether the decision of the Supreme Court in Sudeer v. Bar Council of India [(1999) 3 SCC 176] requires reconsideration?


Can a pre-enrollment examination be prescribed by the Bar Council of India under the Advocates Act, 1961?


In case the first two questions are answered in the negative, could a post-enrollment examination be validly prescribed by the Bar Council of India in terms of Section 49(1)(ah) of the Advocates Act, 1961?
Petitioner’s Arguments
  • The Rules are within the power of the Bar Council of India and are reasonable and justified while being within the purview of the constitutional rights guaranteed to the citizens of India.
  • The Rules are essential to allow only highly trained and qualified professionals to practise law in India.
Respondent’s Arguments
  • In a tagged matter of Parthsarthi Mahesh Saraf v. Union of India [W.P.(C) No. 25/2021], the petitioner has submitted that the Bar Council is proceeding to conduct examinations in the absence of any statutory provision in that regard.

  • Section 7 of the Advocates Act, 1961 lays down the statutory functions of the Bar Council of India and makes no mention of conducting a Bar Examination. These provisions therefore do not entitle the Bar Council to to frame such Rules which prescribe a pre-condition before enrollment of an applicant as an Advocate under the Act.

  • Both Section 24(3)(d) and Section 49 of the Advocates Act cannot be extended to grant this power to the Bar Council of India.

  • The Bar Council of India has mandated that the legal profession can be entered into only after pursuing a Law Degree for three years after graduation. This implies that the age of entry in the profession is higher than other professions and hence a further examination or practical training should not be mandated.

Court's reasoning

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court was of the view that the questions that fell for determination in this case were of considerable importance affecting the legal profession in general and needed to be authoritatively answered by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. Accordingly, it referred this matter to a five-judge bench for its consideration.

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


Murali Prasad v. Bar Council of India

T.C.(C) No. 15/2011




Amit Sahni v. Bar Council of India 

T.C.(C) No. 14/2011 




Sujith Menon v. Union of India

T.C.(C) No. 12/2011




Anuj Aggarwal v. Union of India

T.C.(C) No. 13/2011




Babubhai Vaghele v. Union of India

T.C.(C) No. 16/2011




Ashima Bindlish v. Union of India

T.C.(C) No. 17/2011




Divya Sharma v. Union of India

T.C.(C) No. 18/2011 




Kayval Shah v. Union of India

T.C.(C) No. 36/2011




R. Nagabushana v. Bar Council of India

W.P.(C) No. 987/2013




Bar Council of India v. Abhilash Thampan Panickar

T.P.(C) No. 692/2015




Parthsarthi Mahesh Saraf v. Union of India

W.P.(C) No. 25/2021




Sunil v. Union of India

T.C.(C) No. 75/2012 

Filing date on Supreme Court website is wrong. 



M. Radhakrishnan v. Bar Council of India

T.C.(C) No. 08/2012 

Filing date on Supreme Court website is wrong. 



Bharat Agarwal v. Bar Council of India

T.C.(C) No. 88/2012 

Filing date on Supreme Court website is wrong.


* as of