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

Shilpa Sailesh v. Varun Sreenivasan

T.P.(C)No. 1118/2014


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

Bench Composition

Bench Status

Last listed before
Hon’ble Chief Justice
S. A. Bobde
Hon’ble Justice
B. R. Gavai
Hon’ble Justice
A. S. Bopanna
Hon’ble Justice
V. Ramasubramanian
Hon’ble Justice
Hrishikesh Roy

Hon’ble Justice S. A. Bobde

  • Born on 24.04.1956 at Nagpur, Maharashtra, son of Shri Arvind Shriniwas Bobde.
  • ook B.A. and LL.B. Degrees from Nagpur University.
  • Enrolled on the Roll of the Bar Council of Maharashtra in 1978
  • Practiced Law at the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court with appearances at Bombay before the Principal Seat and before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India for over 21 years. Designated as Senior Advocate in 1998.
  • Elevated to the Bench of the Bombay High Court on 29th March, 2000, as Additional Judge.
  • Sworn in as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court on 16th October, 2012.
  • Elevated as a Judge of Supreme Court of India on 12th April, 2013.
  • Sworn in as Chief Justice of India on 18th November, 2019.
  • Due to retire on 23rd April, 2021.

Hon’ble Justice B. R. Gavai

  • Born on 24th November, 1960 at Amravati.
  • Joined Bar on 16th March, 1985. Worked with late Bar. Raja S. Bhonsale, former Advocate General and Judge of High Court, till 1987.
  • Practiced independently at Bombay High Court from 1987 to 1990.
  • After 1990, practised mainly before Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. Practised in Constitutional Law and Administrative Law.
  • Was Standing Counsel for Municipal Corporation of Nagpur, Amravati Municipal Corporation and Amravati University.
  • Appeared regularly for various autonomous bodies and Corporations like SICOM, DCVL etc. and various Municipal Councils in Vidarbha region.
  • Was appointed as Assistant Government Pleader and Additional Public Prosecutor in the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, Nagpur Bench, from August, 1992 to July, 1993.
  • Was appointed as Government Pleader and Public Prosecutor for Nagpur Bench on 17th January, 2000. Was elevated as Additional Judge of the High Court on 14th November, 2003.
  • Became a permanent Judge of the Bombay High Court on 12th November, 2005
  • Presided over Benches having all types of assignments at the Principal Seat at Mumbai as well as Benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Panaji. Elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 24th May, 2019. Due to retire on 23rd November, 2025.

Hon’ble Justice A. S. Bopanna

  • Born on 20th May, 1959
  • He enrolled as an advocate on November 21, 1984 and practised Civil, Constitutional, Company, Service and Labour matters in the High Court as well as the Civil and Labour Courts.
  • He also worked as legal advisor to Central Public Sector Undertakings and worked as Additional Central Government Standing Counsel from 1999 onwards till 2005.
  • He was appointed as an Additional Judge of the High Court of Karnataka on January 6, 2006 and became a permanent judge on March 1, 2007.
  • He was elevated as Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court on Octoer 29, 2018.
  • He was elevated as a judge of the Supreme court of India on May 24, 2019.
  • He is due to retire on May 19, 2024.

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.

Hon’ble Justice Hrishikesh Roy

  • Justice Hrishikesh Roy was born on 1st February 1960
  • He obtained his LL.B Degree from Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi in 1982.
  • On 21.12.2004, he was designated as Senior Advocate, by the Gauhati High Court.
  • Justice Roy was sworn-in as an Additional Judge of Gauhati High Court on 12.10.2006 and served as permanent Judge with effect from 15.07.2008. In Assam, while heading the Mediation Monitoring Committee, the film Shako (Bridge) was produced and this film was used as a training tool in the Mediation programmes.
  • Arunachal Pradesh Legal Services authority led by Justice Roy, produced Apne Ajnabi, a short film on the theme of racial prejudice and the film is about how legal help can be provided for the needy, under the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987.
  • On 23rd September, 2019, Justice Hrishikesh Roy took oath as a Judge of the Supreme Court
  • He served as the 35th Chief Justice of the High Court of Kerala since 8th August, 2018.
  • Earlier on 29.05.2018, he was transferred from the Gauhati High Court.
  • As the Executive Head of the Assam State Legal Services Authority, Justice Roy had implemented the Reach Out & Respond programme, to facilitate access to justice, for the marginalised sections of Assam.
  • He was spearheading the training programmes for the Judicial Officers under the Gauhati High Court and was nominated as a member of the National Judicial Academic Council, headed by the Chief Justice of India.
  • For about 10 years the News Letter ATMAN was published regularly for the Gauhati High Court under Justice Roy's editorship.


A petition for transfer of a divorce case pending before the Family Court Ernakulam (Kerala) to the Family Court Pune (Maharashtra) was filed before the Supreme Court. The Court allowed the petition and ordered to issue notice meanwhile granting stay on the proceedings pending before the Family Court. On 10-11-2014, the Supreme Court issued another notice granting a further stay on the proceedings pending before the Family Court Kerala and Judicial First Class Magistrate Court-II at Aluva, Kerala.
On 23-03-2015, the Court ordered to issue the transfer petitions filed by the respondent before an appropriate bench. The Court on 06-04-2015 permitted the parties to file the joint memo of settlement which was to be reached between the parties within one week and issued notice to the Attorney General requesting him to address the issues framed by the Court or incidental issues thereto.
On 06-05-2015, the Court took note of the fact that both the parties responded well to the suggestion of settlement outside the Court and settled the matter and filed a joint application with the terms of settlement. The Court further observed that facts and circumstances indicate that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of marriage and the parties do not have any issue with taking divorce and in such circumstances, requiring the parties to go to the jurisdictional Family Court to invoke the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 to seek a decree of divorce would be a lengthy process considering the fact that the Family Courts in the country are clogged with a huge volume of similar litigation. Therefore, the Court dissolved the marriage under Article 142 of the Constitution.
However, the court framed two questions of law arising from the matter and decided to let the petition remain pending so as to allow them to determine the concerned questions of law in the instant matter. On 29-06-2016, the Court referred the matter to a larger bench and it was presented before the five-judge bench on 24-03-2021 which asked to list it in the second week of April, 2021. The matter is pending since then.

Questions of law


What broad parameters should the Supreme Court consider while exercising powers under Article 142 of the Constitution to dissolve a marriage between consenting parties without referring the parties to a Family Court to wait for the mandatory period prescribed under Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955?


Should the exercise of such jurisdiction under Article 142 not be made at all or should such exercise be left to be determined by the facts of every case?
Appellant’s Arguments
  • No arguments made by the Appellant are available in this case.
Respondent’s Arguments
  • No arguments made by the Respondent are available in this case.

Court's reasoning

The Attorney General submitted before the Supreme Court that the issues arising from the transfer petitions are substantial questions of law and therefore, should be heard by the Constitution bench of at least five judges. The Court agreed with his submission and referred the matter to a larger bench. The Court placed reliance upon a judgment of another Constitution Bench in the case of Pradip Chandra Parija v. Pramod Chandra Patnaik (2002) 1 SCC 1, wherein it was opined that in a situation when a two judge bench is of the opinion that provisions of Article 145(3) are attracted, the bench may refer the matter directly to a Constitution Bench.
Interpretation of Article 142 of the Constitution of India and Section 13B of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
No precedents under conflict.

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


Jaikant Kumaran v. Manika Jaikant Kumaran

T.P.(Crl.) No. 96/2014

Diary No. 5616/2014




Jaikant Kumaran v. Manika Jaikant Kumaran

T.P.(Crl.) No. 339/2014

Diary No. 24892/2014




Varun Sreenivasan v. Shilpa Varun

T.P.(Crl.) No. 382/2014

Diary No. 32118/2014




Varun Sreenivasan v. Shilpa Varun

T.P.(Crl.) No. 1481-1482/2014

Diary No. 32119/2014




Varun Sreenivasan v. Shilpa Varun

T.P.(Crl.) No. 468/2014 

Diary No. 39217/2014




H v. W

SLP(C) No. 32449/2017 

Diary No. 31419/2017



* as of