Supreme Court Current Affairs - 2019

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SC clears Chardham highway project connecting 4 holy places in Uttarakhand

Supreme Court has cleared decks for Chardham highway project, which will connect four holy places of Uttarakhand through 900 km all-weather roads. The apex court had also directed Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to form high-powered committee by 22 August 2019 so as to look into environmental concerns.

High-Powered Committee

A Supreme Court bench comprising of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Surya Kant modified an earlier order of National Green Tribunal by constituting a fresh high-powered committee to look into environmental concern.

Supreme Court added representatives from Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Physical Research Laboratory under government’s space department and Ministry of Defence to new high powered committee and asked committee to submit its recommendations within 4 months.

As per SC, committee shall hold quarterly meetings thereafter to ensure compliance and may suggest any further measure after each review meeting.

It shall consider cumulative and independent impact of Chardham project on entire Himalayan valleys.

Committee will also suggest areas in which afforestation should be taken and kind of saplings to be planted. SC directed that in case of non-survival of any sapling, further plantation should be done and compensatory afforestation should be 10 times number of trees cut.

About Char Dham Highway

It is a proposed two-lane (in each direction) express National Highway in state of Uttarakhand.  The two lane highway will have a minimum width of 10 metre.

The proposed Char Dham Expressway National Highway project will connect 4 holy places in Uttarakhand states viz.- Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri

Project includes 900 km national highways which will connect whole of Uttarakhand state.

Cabinet approves increasing strength of Supreme Court Judges

Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved increasing the number of judges in Supreme Court from the present 31 to 34 (i.e. by 10%), including Chief Justice of India (CJI). In this regard it has approved bill to amend Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956. At present, the full sanctioned strength of SC is 31 (including CJI). Once this bill gets parliamentary nod, the number of judges would go up to 34, including the CJI.

Background

This decision of Union Cabinet comes after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi had requested to increase number of judges in the Supreme Court. CJI in his letter had urged to augment judge-strength in SC appropriately so that it can function more efficiently and effectively and go a long way to attain ultimate goal of rendering timely justice to litigant public. He also had mentioned that due to paucity of judges, the required number of Constitution Benches of SC were not being formed to decide important cases involving questions of law. According to written reply by Law Minister to Rajya Sabha there are total 11, 59,331 cases are pending in the Supreme court.

SC Composition: Constitutional and Statutory Provisions

The strength of Supreme Court is fixed by law made by Parliament as per Article 124 (1) of Constitution of India. Therefore, the strength can be increased by way of parliamentary legislation. In pursuance of this Parliament has enacted Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956, which originally provided for maximum of 10 judges (excluding the CJI). The law was last amended in 2009 to increase judges’ strength from 25 to 30 (excluding the CJI).