The Supreme Court recently delivered a split verdict in the Karnataka hijab ban case.
- A split verdict is passed when the Bench cannot decide one way or the other in a case, either by an unanimous decision or by a majority verdict.
- Split verdicts can only happen when the Bench has an even number of judges.
- This is why judges usually sit in Benches of odd numbers (three, five, seven, etc.) for important cases, even though two-judge Benches — known as Division Benches — are not uncommon.
- In case of a split verdict, the case is heard by a larger Bench.
- The larger Bench to which a split verdict goes can be a three-judge Bench of the High Court, or an appeal can be preferred before the Supreme Court.
- In the case of the hijab verdict, the CJI, who is the ‘master of the roster’, will constitute a new, larger Bench to hear the matter.