New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is the "Master of the Roster" in charge of assigning cases but the allocation of cases has to be "fair and in the interest of the institution", former chief justice RM Lodha has said, concerned that the top court was passing through a phase that he described as, "to say the least, disastrous".
- Top court passing through a "disastrous" phase: Ex-Chief Justice RM Lodha
- Chief Justice must be "fair" in allocation of cases, says retired judge
- His remarks come against the backdrop of a rift within the top judiciary
The retired judge, who was India's Chief Justice between April and September 2014, said it is high time "collegiality is restored" in the top court and the judges "find common ground that takes the Supreme Court forward and maintains independence of judiciary.
But in this, he said, "it is for the Chief Justice, who is the leader of the court, to take that forward. He has to show statesmanship-like qualities, take all brothers and sisters together."
The former chief justice's remarks come against the backdrop of a rift within the top judiciary that became public after four judges, most-senior next to the Chief Justice, went public with their criticism of the way sensitive cases were allocated and implied that the Chief Justice was abusing his position as "master of the roster".
The immediate trigger for their unprecedented press conference was the case involving Justice BH Loya, who died in 2012 of a cardiac arrest, at a time he was deciding on charges against BJP president Amit Shah. The case was first allotted to a junior judge but a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra later heard the case. Last month, it rejected a petition that asked for a probe into the judge's death.
That verdict was also commented upon by another speaker at the release of a book titled "Anita Gets Bail' authored by former union minister Arun Shourie on Tuesday evening. Justice AP Shah, the former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, said the verdict was "utterly wrong, and jurisprudentially, incorrect on so very many counts".
Justice Shah said the court had acted as a court of appeal in this case and granted some sort of an acquittal without the benefit of the judgment of the trial court.