With the Supreme Court all set to work in its full strength of 31 judges from July 1 after summer vacation, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has notified a new roster of work which said top five judges of the top court will be hearing Public Interest Litigation (PIL) matters.
On May 24, when the Supreme Court was on vacation, four new judges were administered the oath of office by the CJI taking the overall number of judges to 31 -- the full sanctioned strength of the top court since 2008.
Earlier, fresh PIL matters were notified to be heard only by the CJI and the second senior-most judge after the CJI.
However, top court lawyers said though the previous notification on roster stated that two senior-most judges would hear the PIL matters, it was also assigned to the benches headed by judges who were not within the seniority of five-senior most judges.
According to the fresh roster uploaded on the court's website, the CJI will deal with the PIL matters and it would be his discretion to assign PIL cases to other top four judges -- SA Bobde, NV Ramana, Arun Mishra and RF Nariman.
The bench headed by the Chief Justice will also hear petitions on letters received, matters related to social justice, elections, company law, monopoly and restricted trade practices, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Security Exchange Board of India, Insurance and Reserve Bank of India.
The CJI has also kept with himself matters concerning arbitration, habeas corpus, criminal cases, contempt of court and ordinary civil matters.
His bench will also deal with the issues relating to the appointment of constitutional functionaries, statutory appointments and appointment of other law officers.
Matters pertaining to judicial officers and commissions of enquiry would also be allocated before the bench headed by the CJI.
A bench led by Justice Bobde will hear matters related to direct and indirect taxes, mercantile law, commercial transactions including banking, election, appeals against orders of statutory bodies, arbitration appeals, appointment of law officers, matters pertaining to employees of Supreme Court, high court, district courts and tribunals. The Justice Bobde-led bench would also hear matters related to admissions to educational institutions other than medical and engineering colleges, leases, government contracts and contracts by local bodies.
Justice Ramana has been assigned matters related to compensation, arbitration appeals, criminal matters, ordinary civil matters, mercantile laws, commercial transactions including banking, judicial officers matters and matters related to armed forces and paramilitary forces, admirality and maritime laws.
He will also hear matters related to religious charitable endowments and eviction under the Public premises (eviction) Act.
Besides PIL and letter petitions, Justice Arun Mishra led bench has been assigned matters of land acquisition and requisition and indirect taxes.
His bench will also hear matters of company law, monopoly and restricted trade practices, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Security Exchange Board of India, Insurance and Reserve Bank of India.
Justice Mishra will also hear contempt of court, criminal and ordinary civil matters, admission and transfer matters of engineering, medical colleges and allocation of 15 per cent All India quota in medical and engineering colleges.
Justice Nariman, the fifth in seniority in the apex court, has been assigned PIL and letter petitions besides direct taxes, rent act, compensation, family law, matters related to armed and paramilitary forces, lease, government contract and local bodies contracts. Other 10 benches have been assigned regular matters related to taxes, property, land and acquisition, service and compensation matters.