Supreme Court Bench Sets Time Limit For Lawyers; Says Time To Change Old Habits

According to a two-judge panel of the Supreme Court, oral arguments in a case should not exceed 30 minutes, and legal submissions should not exceed three pages in length. In addition, they said it was time for lawyers to change their habits.


Whose court in the world allows lawyers to argue for days and days? Even in England, I haven't been able to find any examples of this. 


Yatin Narendra Oza, a Gujarati lawyer, stripped of his "senior advocate" title following contempt proceedings initiated by the Gujarat High Court, filed the petition. Senior advocates Arvind Datar and Abhishek Manu Singhvi defended Oza in front of the Supreme Court after he made offensive remarks about the high court judges. He has been awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court since August 2020.


Each of Datar and Singhvi was given 30 minutes to prepare their submissions, which were due within one hour. As the contesting party, the Gujarat high court was given 45 minutes to complete its submissions, while intervenors were given 15 minutes to complete their submissions in the case. When it came to law submissions, the bench instructed both sides to submit a three-page synopsis of law that cited the best judgement on the point.

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"Many times we find a 30-page synopsis filed for a 28-page write petition," the bench said in imposing this discipline on lawyers. We as lawyers must be able to explain to litigants whose appeal has been pending for ten years why certain matters are given priority and are heard for

Hours at a time."


As of September 1, both Datar and Singhvi have agreed to abide by the time constraints.


He noted that the Supreme Court of America has a similar system where lawyers are given 25 minutes to argue a case, with the other side getting five additional minutes. It's Rule 28 of the US Supreme Court Rules on Oral Hearings that he was referring to: "Unless the Court directs otherwise, each side is allowed a half hour for argument."


Justice Kaul's recent judgement reflected the changes being contemplated by the Supreme Court bench. An Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights was invoked by Justice Kaul, who presided over a three-judge panel.


There can be no refusal to change old practises, especially when they have outlived their usefulness. It's no longer a matter of who can argue the longest in court."


There were 69,212 cases pending before the Supreme Court as of July 2, 447, where the Constitution bench matters. 

Attorneys in Justice Kaul's court are also given special instruction in the daily case list: "Parties should prepare a brief synopsis of not more than three pages each for the final hearing or disposition matters."


According to the Supreme Court's July 2 list of pending issues, there are 69,212, of which 447 are Constitution bench issues. According to Justice Kaul, "the time spent on routine matters leaves very little time to settle legal principles that are pending before larger benches and could have an impact on the judicial system down the road."