The Supreme Court of India judges stunned as Registry defies order to list matter for urgent hearing

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In an unprecedented development, the Supreme Court registry audaciously defied a vacation bench's order directing listing of a petition on Tuesday for hearing of a matter.

The non-listing of the petition, despite written orders, left the bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala flummoxed. The judges were heard sharing their disappointment: "How can the Registrar (Judicial) say the matter won't be listed, after we've directed?" 

As per the procedure laid down for listing of a petition during vacation, a fresh matter's urgency quotient would first be examined by a vacation officer. If she/he certifies it as urgent, it'd be vetted by the Registrar (Judicial). The case would be listed for hearing only after both concur that it required urgent hearing.

But, it's been the norm that after a bench orders, even orally, for listing of a petition on a specific day, the Registry complies with it. When lawyers were complaining that urgent matters weren't being listed, the bench attempted to cover its disappointment by saying, "There may be a procedure for listing matters during vacation. Unless the holiday officer and therefore the Registrar (Judicial) clear it, a matter can't be listed."

The reason behind the bench's consternation was the non-listing of a Union government's petition which was mentioned by lawman Tushar Mehta on Monday for urgent listing. Mehta on Monday had questioned the Tripura high court's jurisdiction to entertain a PIL challenging the Z+ security cover given to Mumbai-based businessman Mukesh Ambani. 

The SG had said the HC without territorial or subject jurisdiction has directed the Union home ministry to provide documents substantiating the grant of highest security cover to Ambani and his family.

Justices Kant and Pardiwala in its order on Monday had said, "Upon being orally mentioned by Tushar Mehta, law officer of India appearing for the petitioner Union of India, seeking urgent listing of the matter, the Registry is directed to list these matters tomorrow, i.e., June, 28, 2022." But, the matter wasn't listed on Tuesday.

Expressing concern over the bench's anguished observations within the courtroom, former peace officer Ranjit Kumar said, "When two Judges of the Supreme Court are of the view that a selected matter required urgent hearing and direct listing on a specific day, how could the registry officials overreach the court orders?" 

After the fracas, the registry has now listed the Centre's special leave petition against the HC's order on Wednesday for hearing before the holiday bench.