New Delhi, April 27: Attorney General K.K. Venugopal on Friday told the Supreme Court that the Chief Justice of India is the “master of roster” and he has full power to allocate cases and to maintain discipline.
Venugopal told a bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan that vesting case allocation with multi-member collegium instead of the Chief Justice would create multiple authority and result in “conflict and chaos”.
Venugopal said if all the judges of the apex court or collegium decide the allocation, then “each judge would express preference” and the judicial system would “collapse”.
Venugopal referred to many judgements to underline that the Chief Justice was the master of roster.
If all judges or five-member collegium judges decide the allocation, “there will be conflict, there will be chaos if judges decide which case they should hear, which bench they should preside”.
The court had earlier sought Venugopal’s assistance on a plea by former Law Minister and senior counsel Shanti Bhuhan, seeking that the allocation of “important and sensitive cases” be done by the collegium of five senior-most judges and not by the Chief Justice alone.
The court reserved its verdict on the plea.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Shanti Bhushan, told the bench that “sensitive cases” like those which directly touch upon the very “survival of democracy” should not be left to the discretion of the Chief Justice.
In his plea, Bhushan said the authority of the Chief Justice as a master of roster was not an “absolute, arbitrary, singular power” which may be exercised in his “sole discretion” and the Chief Justice must exercise his authority in consultation with other senior judges who are also part of the collegium.
The collective opinion of a collegium was much safer than the opinion of the Chief Justice alone, it said.