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What is a Constitution Bench

Let’s take a look at what a Constitution Bench is and why it is imperative in cases that impact major section of Indian society.

What is a Constitution Bench

The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided that a five-judge Constitution Bench will hear the pleas against Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government’s move to abrogate Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The hearing by the Constitution Bench is slated to begin in the first week of October.

In the past, Constitution Benches have been formed to hear case of vital importance, such as validity of Aadhaar scheme, de-criminalisation of section 377, Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit, among others.

Let’s take a look at what a Constitution Bench is and why it is imperative in cases that impact major section of Indian society.

The provision of Constitution Bench is enshrined in Article 145(3) of the Constitution of India.

The Article mentions that such bench can be formed to decide on cases “involving a substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution”. The same can also be constituted “for the purpose of hearing any reference under Article 143”.

A decision on whether any case merits hearing by a Constitution Bench has to be taken by the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

As per the provisions of the Article, a Constitution Bench needs to have a minimum of five Supreme Court judges. However, the Supreme Court has had Constitution benches comprising seven, nine and even 13 judges. For instance, the Constitution Bench that decided on the issue of Right to Privacy had nine judges.

Constitution Bench have played a vital role in deciding on the basic rights of citizens of the country.

With regard to the abrogation of Article 370, the Constitution Bench is slated to hear around 14 petitions. The Supreme Court has already issued notice to the central government, seeking their response on the petitions filed against the move in Jammu and Kashmir.