New Delhi: Whether cases should be assigned by the Chief Justice of India or by a collegium or panel of top judges will be examined by the Supreme Court on April 27. The court will take up a petition filed by former law minister Shanti Bhushan, which suggests that the Chief Justice of India must not have absolute power as "master of roster".
- Ex-law minister Shanti Bhushan has sought transparency in assigning cases
- Petition filed by Shanti Bhushan to be heard by Supreme Court on April 27
- It says Chief Justice must not have absolute power as "master of roster"
Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked for the assistance of Attorney General KK Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
In January, four most senior judges after the Chief Justice called a press conference and criticised the way sensitive cases were allocated. They alleged that Chief Justice Dipak Misra was abusing his status as "master of roster". Their concern revolved around the case of 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 assigned to a junior judge.
Today, the judges objected when the petitioners tried to raise the unprecedented January 12 press conference by Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
"We are not going to go into it. We are not concerned with it for many reasons and obvious reasons. Don't say all this," the judges said.
The bench also referred to its recent verdicts, saying it has already held that the Chief Justice is the "master of roster".
"If we go by your argument, then five judges have to sit every day to list cases. Almost one lakh cases are filed in a year," Justice AK Sikri told Dushyant Dave, lawyer for the petitioner.
Mr Dave said, "Five Judges can only list only sensitive cases concerning the country." To which, the judges said, "Cases sensitive to you may not be sensitive to us. Where do we draw a line?"
On Thursday, Prashant Bhushan had asked Justice J Chelameswar to take up his father's petition but the country's second most senior judge said he wouldn't do so as his order may be reversed. Mr Bhushan then went to the Chief Justice and asked him to list it.
On Wednesday, a group of three judges including the Chief Justice dismissed a similar petition by a Lucknow-based lawyer, calling it "scandalous". "The Chief Justice of India is the highest authority and he can't be distrusted," said the judges.