SC to test if CJI's power to allot cases can be regulated

SC to test if CJI's power to allot cases can be regulated

While hearing a PIL challenging the existing roster system and powers of the CJI to allocate cases, a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan made it clear that it was not concerned with the issue of the presser for "many reasons and obvious reasons".

Dave said the petition raises substantial questions about the interpretation of the Constitution based on the principle that the law is above all. "We are not against any particular order", Dave said, according to Bar and Bench.

At this juncture, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal said he had come to court with a "heavy heart" and added that he didn't want to make any personal charges as that would harm the institution.

When senior advocate Dushyant Dave said "sensitive cases" like those which directly touch upon the very "survival of democracy" should not be left to the discretion of the CJI, the court told him: "What is sensitive for you may not be sensitive for another".

Prima facie, allocation of "sensitive and important cases" done by the collegium of five senior-most judges is not a workable solution because that would mean the five judges would be required to sit every day or twice a week to allocate cases: Justice Sikri.

On Justice Kurian Joseph's reported missive to fellow judges in the apex court on the problems in judiciary, Sibal said the "distinguished judge" had acted to ensure that the Supreme Court acts "collectively to protect its own independence".

Recalling the way the full court met when then Calcutta High Court Judge C.S. Karnan "challenged the dignity of the court", Justice Kurian said: "Is not the present a more grievous situation?"


In his PIL, Shanti Bhushan has stated that the "master of roster" can not be unguided and unbridled discretionary power, exercised arbitrarily by the CJI by hand-picking benches of select judges or by assigning cases to particular judges.

In his petition, Bhushan sought a check on the powers of the CJI, who is the "master of the roster" and allocates hearing of cases to different courts. "You can come out with suggestions", Justice Sikri observed.

This comes days after Justice Chelameswar's letter to the CJI and other judges on executive interference into the Collegium's recommendation with regard to elevation of Karnataka judge P Krishna Bhat to the high court.

"Failure to discharge their duty by sitting on the recommendations of the collegium, in administrative law, is abuse of power".

Reiterating that the chief justice was the "master of the roster" and sole authority to decide on allotment of cases, the court went on to say, "As a repository of constitutional trust, the chief justice is an institution in himself".

The Congress said that the Opposition is as concerned about the independence of the judiciary as anybody else. "This is a serious matter and if we think about it, calmly, coolly, look at all the possible consequences and then come to a conclusion, you can not say why have not you done it yesterday".

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