SC seeks attorney general's help to examine plea on allocation of cases

Senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan moves Supreme Court questioning CJI’s role as ‘master of roster

Senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan moves Supreme Court questioning CJI’s role as ‘master of roster

Today we complete three months since we resolved to recommend Ms. Indu Malhotra, Senior Advocate and Justice KM Joseph for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court. Shortage of judges, as well as frequent and contentious deliberations between government and collegium on appointments, can be minimised by allowing SC as well as high court judges to serve until 70.

Mr Bhushan is challenging the "roster system" notified by the registry and sought a direction that in future listing of cases before the appropriate benches should be decided by collegium of five judges.

The petition said the CJI's authority as the master of roster is "not an absolute, arbitrary, singular power that is vested in the chief justice alone and which may be exercised with his sole discretion". The court will hear the matter next on April 27.

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"Is not the present a more grievous situation?"

In these circumstances, I am of the view that following the precedent in Justice Karnan's case, we should take u the matter on the judicial side in a Bench of first seven or more as you please.

As Dave responded in the affirmative, Justice Sikri said: "Prima facie, we don't see that for this, the CJI be treated as Collegium".

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Justice Sikri pointed out that hundreds of cases are filed in the court every day and at least a lakh cases annually. This court is reeling under the pressure of work and working with a strength of 24 as against 31.

"What you are aggrieved by is the manner in which the power is being exercised. We [Collegium] are not able to sit for the second phase since the fate of the first phase is not yet known", Justice Kurian wrote. The dignity, honour and respect of this institution is going down day by day since we are not able to take the recommendations for appointment to this court to their logical conclusion. I am more anxious about the irreparable injury that is being caused by the wrong message sent to the Judges down the line. "If there is no normal delivery on completion of the gestation period, what is urgently done is a Caesarean section".

ASSERTING the superior authority of the Chief Justice of India, the Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the CJI is an "institution in himself" and occupies a "unique position" having the "exclusive prerogative" to allocate cases and set up benches. It is time to further insulate judges from governments and increase retirement ages, bring pensions on par with last salary drawn, amend statutes to remove requirements for retired judges in tribunals, and create an appointments commission for tribunals that serving judges, lawyers and others can apply to.

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The verdict assumes significance as it comes against the backdrop of an unprecedented press conference on January 12 by the four senior most judges of the apex court where they targeted Justice Misra over what they called improper allocation of cases.

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