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Transferring Cases From High Court to Supreme Court: Explained

Updated: Jan 18

Sunil Rathee & Ors .v. State of Haryana & Ors Transfer Petition (Civil ) No. 2592 of 2019

The Supreme Court had passed a judgment which explains superfluously the circumstances when it can transfer a case from a High Court to Itself.

Article 139A of the Indian Constitution says that "Where cases involving the same or substantially the same questions of law are pending before the Supreme Court and one or more High Courts or before two or more High Courts and the Supreme Court is satisfied on its own motion or an application made by the Attorney General of India or by a party to any such case that such questions are substantial questions of general importance, the Supreme Court may withdraw the case or cases pending before the High Court or the High Courts and dispose of all the cases itself: Provided that the Supreme Court may after determining the said questions of law return any case so withdrawn together with a copy of its judgment on such questions to the High Court from which the case has been withdrawn, and the High Court shall on receipt thereof, proceed to dispose of the case in conformity with such judgment".

Supreme Court explains when cases can be transferred from High Courts to itself.

In the case of Sunil Rathee & Ors .v. State of Haryana & Ors, the major issue was related to the 10 per cent vertical reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the arena of public employment. The petitioner in the case had sought for this plea to be transferred from the High Court to the Supreme Court on the ground that similar petitions addressing near-identical issues are pending before the Apex Court for adjudication. at the same time, the transfer plea was opposed by the State of Haryana, which contended that pending pleas on similar issues do not warrant transfer of the matter to the Supreme Court.

Finally, the Supreme Court noted that transfer is permissible under 2 circumstances, namely-

  • when the question of law pending before the Supreme Court is already substantially similar to the question of law raised in the matter pending before the High Court; And

  • when the Court is satisfied that the question of law pending before itself is one of substantial importance to the general public.

Further, the Hon'ble Court also added that such satisfaction can be on this Court’s own motion, on an application made by the Attorney General or on the basis of an application made by a party to any such case. The Court also adds that Article 139A vests this Court with jurisdiction to direct transfer or withdrawal of a case pending in a High Court to this Court on two grounds, to which I have referred earlier. On satisfaction of these conditions, the Supreme Court can take direction in exercise of its discretion for withdrawing the case for disposal of the same by itself. The manner in which such discretion would be exercised would vary from case to case.


The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favour of transferring the case to itself, stating that the conditions stipulated in Article 139A for the transfer of cases from the High Court to the Supreme Court stand fulfilled under the circumstances mentioned above, and thus the case of Sunil Rathee & Ors .v. State of Haryana & Ors thus stands transferred to the Court. The Court also specifies that this question of transfer is of Importance to the general public, thus favouring the transfer of the case itself.


Swathi. Ashok. Nair is currently pursuing Law at the School of Legal Studies, CUSAT, Kerala.

They can be contacted at swathiashoknair555@gmail.com


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