Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Case Digest: G.R. No. L-16217. October 9, 1920. 41 Phil 94

The United States, plaintiff-appellee, vs. M. J. Limsiongco, Vicente Yap, Yap Bun, Tan Fong, Sing Joy, Chino Saya (alias) Isaias Javier, Lim Liongco, Sing Yang, Lorenzo Pavia And Mariano Tan-Congco, defendants-appellants.

Facts: The second division of the Supreme Court rendered a decision in a case on gambling.  Within the time allowed by the Rules of the Court, counsel for appellants have raised a question unconnected with the merits of the particular case, but assailing the very structure of the court itself. Appellant's motion is based on the ground that the instant decision was rendered by a division of the court and not by the body constituted by law for the purpose, and hence the decisions as rendered, was rendered by a body outside the law and having no power, authority or jurisdiction to render a final decision in the controversy.

Issue: Whether or not section 138 of the Administrative Code which authorizes divisions in the Supreme Court had diminished the authority of the Supreme Court to hear and determine causes.

Ruling: No. The Supreme Court remains a unit notwithstanding it works in divisions. Although it may have two divisions, it is but a single court. Actions considered in any one of these divisions and decisions rendered therein are, in effect, by the same Tribunal. The two divisions of this court are not to be considered as two separate and distinct courts but as divisions of one and the same court. In the exact words of the law which is questioned, the Supreme Court shall, as a body, sit in banc, but it may sit in divisions. In addition, the Supreme Court held that the Philippine Legislature had power to enact law authorizing the Supreme Court to sit either in banc or in divisions to transact business.

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