When the Supreme Court re-opened its doors after its 2023 summer vacation, its 5-judge Constitution Benches looked significantly different from a year ago but the top court seems to have lost no steam in taking up constitutionally significant cases. .Barring a few matters, hearings in matters of Constitutional significance had come to standstill during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was only a year ago on August 24, 2022, that the Supreme Court published a notice stating that it will start listing Constitution Bench matters pending before it. The notice was issued when Chief Justice of India NV Ramana had a mere three days left in his tenure. Justice UU Lalit was sworn in as CJI soon after and he wasted no time to constitute benches and list matters. On his last day as CJI, Justice Lalit had exuded a sense of accomplishment around the system of Constitution Bench hearings that was set up and functioned throughout his short tenure of 74 days. .The Supreme Court's official statistics as of September 1 reflects the progress that was made in the first half of 2023. Even with new cases being referred to Constitution Benches, the number of pending 5-judge bench matters is 45 now compared to 53 in August 2022..The momentum gained during Justice Lalit's tenure has continued since CJI Chandrachud took office in November last year. Several of the benches that functioned then have subsequently been dissolved upon the retirement of member-judges..Developments during July - September 2023 in a nutshell.GuidelinesThe Court recently issued guidelines for filing written submissions and compilations before Constitution Benches and in important final hearing cases.The guidelines provide a standard operating procedure (SOP) for filing soft copies of written submissions and common compilations of documents, rules and precedents. It also calls for fixed timelines for oral arguments in such matters..CasesThe apex court delivered verdicts in two Constitution Bench cases: Sivanandan CT & Ors. v. High Court of Kerala & Ors. - Challenge to manner of selection of district judges in Kerala in 2017.CBI v. RR Kishore - Retrospective application of immunity against arrest;.Verdicts have been reserved or remain reserved in the following cases:Supriyo @ Supriya Chakraborty & Anr. v. Union of India - Same sex marriage.In Re: Article 370 of the Constitution - Abrogation of Article 370.The case of Government of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India & Ors. is the most recent case to be referred to a Constitution Bench. This case involves challenge to the legal validity of the recently-promulgated Delhi Services Ordinance, by which control over civil servants in Delhi has been vested with the Central government's nominee, the Lieutenant Governor.On September 12, the Court said that a Constitution Bench would be set up to hear the challenge to the validity of Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) which criminalises sedition. However, a decision has not yet been made as to whether it would be a 5-judge or a 7-judge bench. .Active BenchesThe Supreme Court now has 6 active Constitution Benches, 5 of which are led by CJI Chandrachud. The only bench that is not headed by the CJI was constituted by Justice UU Lalit in his time as CJI.It is pertinent to note that as 'Master of Roster', CJI Chandrachud has assigned himself to every Constitution Bench that he has set up since he took office as CJI..Bench: CJI DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, S Ravindra Bhat, PS Narasimha and Hima Kohli.1. Same-sex marriageQuestion of law: Should the right to marry a person of one's choice extend to citizens who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community as well?Cause title: Supriyo @ Supriya Chakraborty & Anr. vs. Union of IndiaRegistered: November 15, 2022| Admitted: April 19, 2023|Last listed: May 11, 2023.Status: Heard. Verdict reserved.Read more about the 10 days of elaborate hearings here..Bench: CJI DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant.1. Challenge to Abrogation of Article 370 Question of Law: Was the Central government's 2019 move to revoke the special status earlier conferred on the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, legally valid?Cause Title: In Re: Article 370 of the ConstitutionRegistered: August 26, 2019 | Admitted: October 10, 2019| Last listed: September 5, 2023.Status: Heard. Verdict Reserved.The batch of over 20 petitions was heard over the course of 16 days. The verdict is expected to be delivered latest by December 15, 2023 as Justice Kaul, who is a member of the bench, will be retiring from service during the vacation that will commence after December 15. The case laws that will were cited by counsel for both sides can be accessed here.The documents that were relied on can be read here.The written submissions of parties can be viewed here..Bench: CJI DY Chandrachud, and Justices Hrishikesh Roy, PS Narasimha, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.1. Applicability of 'group of companies' doctrineQuestion of law: Should the group of companies doctrine be read into Section 8 of the Arbitration Act or can it exist in Indian jurisprudence independent of any statutory provision?Cause title: Cox and Kings v. SAP Pvt. Ltd.Registered: November 23, 2020 | Admitted: November 23, 2020 | Last listed: March 28, 2023.Status: Pending..Bench: CJI DY Chandrachud and Justices Hrishikesh Roy, PS Narasimha, Pankaj Mithal and Manoj Misra.1. Changing rules of the game during the selection processQuestion of Law: Can the criteria for appointment to a post can be altered by the authorities concerned in the middle or after the process of selection has started?Cause title: Tej Prakash Pathak v. Rajasthan High CourtRegistered: November 4, 2020 | Admitted - March 22, 2023 | Last listed - September 13, 2022Status: Pending.The matter was earlier listed before a Constitution bench led by Justice Indira Banerjee but that bench was dissolved after her retirement on September 23 last year. It was then listed before a Bench led by the CJI but was not taken up for hearing. The newly formed Bench now has Justice Mithal in place of Justice JB Pardiwala..2. Selection of District Judges in the State of KeralaCause Title: Sivanandan CT & Ors. v High Court of Kerala & Ors.Registered: April 8, 2017 | Admitted - November 14, 2017 |Status: Judgment delivered on July 12, 2023.The Court ruled that the selection process adopted by the Kerala High Court for recruitment of District Judges in the year 2017 suffered from several infirmities and was in violation of the Kerala High Judicial Services Rules of 1961. The larger question of law regarding changing the rules of the game during the selection process, the same one that is up for consideration in Tej Prakash Patak, was held to be inapplicable to this case..3. Appointment of ArbitratorsQuestions of Law: Can courts can deviate from the agreed procedure of appointing arbitrators on an application under Section 11 of the Arbitration Act; and are retired employees rendered ineligible to act as the arbitrators in cases involving their former employers?Cause Title: Central Organisation for Railway Electrification v. M/s ECI SPIC SMO MCML (JV) A Joint Venture CompanyRegistered: December 17, 2019 | Admitted - August 24, 2021 | Last listed - September 13, 2023Status: Pending. Next hearing on November 22, 2023..4. Scope of "light motor vehicle" driving licenceQuestion of Law: Is a person with a driving licence for “light motor vehicles”, on the strength of that licence, entitled to drive a “transport vehicle of light motor vehicle class” having unladen weight not exceeding 7500 kg?Cause Title: M/s Bajaj Alliance General Insurance Co Ltd v. Rambha Devi & Ors.Registered: January 16, 2018 | Admitted - January 16, 2018| Last listed - September 13, 2023Status: Pending. Next hearing after 2 months.The Court has asked the Central government to review its policy on whether a person holding a driving licence for light motor vehicles is legally entitled to drive a transport vehicle upto 7,500 kg in weight..5. Appointment of arbitratorsQuestion of Law: Can a person who is himself ineligible to be an arbitrator, appoint an arbitrator?Cause Title: JSW Steel Limited v. South Western Railway & AnrRegistered: May 16, 2022 | Admitted - July 12, 2023 | Last listed - September 13, 2023Status: Pending. Next hearing on November 22, 2023..Bench: Justices SK Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, Abhay S Oka, Vikram Nath and JK Maheshwari.1. Retrospective application of immunity against arrestQuestion of law: Would the removal of immunity to Central government employees at the Joint Secretary level under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act apply retrospectively?Cause title: CBI v. RR KishoreRegistered: March 12, 2007 | Admitted: November 3, 2015 | Last listed: November 2, 2022Status: Judgment delivered on September 11, 2023. The Supreme Court ruled that its 2014 judgment in Subramanian Swamy v. Director CBI which struck down Section 6A of the 1946 Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE Act), would have retrospective effect. This effectively means that public officials cannot enjoy immunity against arrest after the provision which granted such immunity is struck down following their arrest..Bench: CJI DY Chandrachud and Justices AS Bopanna, MM Sundresh, JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra.(Constituted on September 5).1. Citizenship ActQuestion of Law: Challenge to Section 3(1)(a) of Citizenship Act, 1955 and 6A of Citizenship Act, 1985 that provided a framework for regularising or expelling migrants, based on their date of migration.Cause title: Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha v. Union of IndiaRegistered: December 20, 2012 | Admitted: November 5, 2015| Last listed: February 2, 2023Status: Pending. Next hearing on September 20, 2023..2. MLAs' immunity from prosecution for briberyQuestion of Law: Does the immunity conferred on Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) under Article 194(2) of the Constitution in respect of any vote given by them in the legislature, include immunity against prosecution for bribery?Cause title: Sita Soren v. Union of IndiaRegistered: March 7, 2019 | Admitted: December 4, 2018 | Last Listed: December 12, 2022Status: Pending. Next hearing on September 20, 2023.Senior Advocate PS Patwalia is the Amicus Curiae in the case and is being assisted by advocate Gaurav Agarwal..3. Extension of reservations in Lok SabhaQuestion of Law: Does the extension of reservation for Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes and Anglo-Indians (over the inititally planned 10 years) under the 79th Constitutional Amendment violate Article 14?Cause Titile: Ashok Kumar Jain v. Union of India & Ors. Registered: October 17, 2000 | Admitted: February 26, 2016 | Last listed: November 29, 2022Status: Pending. Next hearing on September 20, 2023.