Supreme Court to examine Shanti Bhushan's PIL on rosters

Elias Hubbard
April 13, 2018

Former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan's petition seeks regulation of the CJI's authority to allot cases and constitute benches.

On Justice Kurian Joseph's reported missive to fellow judges in the apex court on the problems in judiciary, Sibal said the "distinguished judge" had acted to ensure that the Supreme Court acts "collectively to protect its own independence".

Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan asked for the assistance of Attorney General KK Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

That's the nub of the matter, starting with the January 12 press conference where the four seniormost judges of the nation's highest court had questioned the CJI's powers to assign cases to other judges because the underlying grouse was that judges were being handpicked to give judgments in certain cases to give the government and the ruling party an easy ride - the death in unusual circumstances of Maharashtra judicial officer B.H. Loya being a case in point.

The decision was taken by a bench of judges comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.

Mr Dave said, "Five Judges can only list only sensitive cases concerning the country".

The Centre has objections to Justice K M Joseph's elevation, with officials arguing that he did not meet the seniority criteria set by the apex court in terms of overall seniority of HC judges and the appointment has become the subject of a tug of war between the government and the judiciary.

In his PIL, Shanti Bhushan has stated that the "master of roster" can not be unguided and unbridled discretionary power, exercised arbitrarily by the CJI by hand-picking benches of select judges or by assigning cases to particular judges.

"We are not going to go into it".

"I request you, in the interest of this great institution and independence of judiciary for which all of us have fought so vigorously and tirelessly, to have an apporpriate bench.otherwise I feel, history will not pardon us", he said in a strongly worded letter, circulated in the media. The Congress said it was "also very concerned... that the issues raised by the four distinguished judges have not yet been fully addressed".

The Bench also referred to its recent verdicts, saying it has already held that the CJI is the "master of roster". A day later, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma had said "we never spoke about taking up the impeachment motion or dropping it".

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.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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