Cases for early hearing can only be listed before Chief Justice: Supreme Court
When the Chief Justice of India was sitting in a Constitution bench, urgent cases could be mentioned before the judge next in seniority, which at present is justice J Chelameswar.india Updated: Nov 12, 2017 22:49 IST
The Supreme Court’s registry has issued an administrative order saying that lawyers can only ask the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to list their cases for an early hearing, barring them from making such a request to any other judge.
The usual practice in the court was for lawyers to approach the CJI’s bench for matters that required early intervention. But when the CJI was sitting in a Constitution bench, urgent cases could be mentioned before the judge next in seniority, which at present is justice J Chelameswar.
Released on Saturday, November 11, the circular by the court’s registry is silent on who can hear such urgent cases if CJI Dipak Misra is on leave.
The circular was put out a day after a two-judge bench headed by justice Chelameswar referred a PIL filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal about a medical admission scam to a Constitution bench of the court’s five most senior judges. The CJI was not to be a part of this Constitution bench.
On Friday, another five-judge bench headed by the CJI, while hearing a similar petition filed by the NGO Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR), annulled the order passed by justice Chelameswar’s bench. The bench laid down that the CJI is the “master of the court” and the prerogative of the constitution of benches rested squarely with him. Then, on Saturday, a three-judge bench was set up by CJI Misra to hear the matter next week.
At the heart of this controversy is a case filed by the Prasad Education Trust seeking relief from a government order barring it from admitting students to its medical college in 2017-18 and 2018-19. On September 18, a bench of the Supreme Court headed by the CJI denied it relief for 2017-18 and asked the Medical Council of India to reassess the college regarding its admission of students for 2018-19. The CBI also filed a case against justice (retired) IM Quddusi and Bhavna Pandey under the anti-corruption law. They were accused of assuring the college representative of getting favourable orders from the top court.
The two PILs by CJAR and Jaiswal are seeking a court-monitored probe into the alleged medical college admission scam.
Signed by two registrars of SC, Kapil Mehta and Rajkumar Choubey, Saturday’s administrative order informs members of the bar that oral mentioning, in respect of matters not being listed or assigned to any other bench, will be allowed only before a bench headed by CJI at 10.30am.
It supersedes an earlier circular issued on November 6, which said that whenever the CJI is hearing a matter pertaining to a Constitution bench, mentioning could be made before the Number 2 judge at 10.30am, but if there was a need for listing of cases on the same day, it had to be referred to the CJI for hearing at 3pm.