Looking Ahead…

….to what could move and shake the top court in 2024. Plus, a round-up of our year-end coverage

This year is a red-letter year for Indian democracy—a General Election is due this summer. The Supreme Court, as ever, is expected to be in the thick of the action, with a big decision on electoral funding due. In the run-up to polling day, it may also potentially be called upon to deal with last-minute complaints about the flouting of Election Commission rules.

It has been a more or less sedate start to 2024 for the Court. Today, it resumed work after the two-week winter vacation by hearing miscellaneous applications. That’s what it will do all week. The substantial hearings will start next week. 

This month, the Court is also scheduled to hear four Constitution Bench cases for directions. Why does this matter? All these cases are seven-judge bench cases, which have been largely missing from the Court’s roster for some time. Except for two cases in 2023, the last seven-judge bench sat in 2019.  

The Court is also expected to deal with challenges against laws passed in the Lok Sabha’s winter session, which concluded on 21 December 2023. These include a Public Interest Litigation filed against the new criminal laws and one asking for the Chief Justice of India to be included in the committee to appoint members of the Election Commission.

CJI D.Y. Chandrachud is expected to retire in November, after a tenure that has already given us many talking points. Three other judges will retire before him—Justices Aniruddha Bose, A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli. With Justice Kohli’s retirement, the number of women judges will fall to two. But, as all three judges will retire before the CJI, the Collegium led by him will have an opportunity to appoint a woman—the first under his tenure. 

The Collegium itself will see some changes. Justice Bose took Justice Kaul’s place after his retirement on 25 December 2023. In April, Justice Bopanna will replace Justice Bose. Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A.S. Oka will become part of the Collegium in May and November respectively. 

Apart from the electoral funding case, other significant judgements expected this year include the ones in the MLA bribery immunity matter and the Bilkis Bano remission of convicts case.

Meanwhile, have you caught up with our year-ender content yet? We’ve put together meaty summaries of the top 10 judgements and the most important hearings of the year. We’ve also assessed pendency figures as a marker of the Court’s health. You will also find 2023 round-ups, based on themes like gender discrimination and personal liberty, the right to life, marriage and arbitration

In 2024, we at Supreme Court Observer hope to bring you more reported and feature stories along with the usual hearing reports. Our goal remains the same: to help our readers make sense of the institution—its priorities, its policies, its pain points.