Published: 14th October 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: After split verdict in hijab row, will CJI refer the matter to a larger bench? What does this mean?
A constitutional bench is formed in rare cases and Article 143 of the Indian Constitution briefs about the scenarios in which this bench can be formed
The Supreme Court delivered a split verdict on appeals against Karnataka High Court's judgement on the hijab ban. In this particular instance, the matter is further being referred to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) for constituting a larger bench.
Having said that, what do you understand when we say larger bench? Is it the same as a Constitutional bench? These questions and a lot more are explained in this edition of #WhatTheFAQ.
What is a larger bench?
A bench is formed consisting of five or more judges regarding a case. And in the hijab row case, after the split verdict, the case will be heard by a larger bench.
What is a constitutional bench?
A constitutional bench is temporary and formed on an ad-hoc basis to decide on important questions of fact or legal interpretation as per the Constitution. The bench will be dissolved after the issue is resolved. There is no particular number as to how many judges are appointed to a Constitutional bench but in general, it comprises five or more judges.
Is the large and constitutional bench the same?
No. It is not. To clear the air, this is what it is: A constitutional bench deals with cases only related to Constitution, whereas a large bench covers varied cases.
When are these benches formed?
When benches with two or more judges have adjudicated conflicting judgments on the same point of law, a large bench is formed to arrive at a conclusion of the case.
On the other hand, a constitutional bench is formed in rare cases and there are four scenarios in which it is formed. Article 143 of the Indian Constitution briefs about the scenarios in which this bench can be formed. They are:
1. If a case involves a "substantial question of law" related to the interpretation of the Constitution
2. If the President seeks Supreme Court's opinion on law or fact
3. When a two-judge bench and later a three-judge bench deliver conflicting judgements on the same issue
4. If a three-judge bench delivers a judgement that is different from the judgement delivered by a previous three-judge bench on an issue