New Delhi, July 6 : The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the Chief Justice of India is the “master of the roster” and has the power to assign cases.
Former law minister Shanti Bhushan challenged the manner in which CJI Dipak Misra exercises his administrative powers.Supreme Court also refused to interfere with the petition of Bhushan on Friday.
A two-judge bench, comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, stated that there is no dispute that the Chief Justice of India is the only master of the roster and first among equals who can allot the cases to the benches.
The Supreme Court ruled that the exercise of constitution of benches and of the allocation of matters is at the discretion of Chief Justice of India.
The bench stated that the CJI’s role cannot be interpreted to include the Collegium when it comes to the allocation for cases as it will make day-to-day functioning difficult.
Disposing of the petition filed by senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, Justice A K Sikri said, “Erosion of respect for the Judiciary in public minds is the greatest threat to the independence of the institution.”
Shanti Bhushan’s petition had called for a panel of senior judges to decide on the rostering of judges and assigning of cases.
Hearing a petition filed by senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan in connection with the SC judge roster system, Supreme Court says there is no dispute that the CJI is the master of the roster and first among equals. SC refuses to interfere with the petition of Bhushan
— ANI (@ANI) July 6, 2018
The manner of exercise of these administrative powers was the sole bone of contention between the CJI and the top four dissenting judges Justices J Chelameswar (now retired), Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph -who held an unprecedented press conference in January.
Shanti Bhushan had said in his petition that “master of the roster” cannot be an “unguided and unbridled” discretionary power, exercised arbitrarily by the Chief Justice by hand-picking the benches of select judges or by assigning cases to particular judges.