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SC adopts roster system for allocation of matters, CJI to hear all PILs

The move, which will come into effect on February 5, was necessitated after four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court publicly criticised Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra over his style of administration and allocation of cases.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2018 22:57 IST
Supreme Court,Judges crisis,Supreme Court roster system
A view of the Supreme Court in New Delhi.(Sonu Mehta/HT File Poho)

Asserting the Chief Justice of India’s primacy in drawing up the ‘roster’ or work allocation chart for judges of the Supreme Court of India even as he seeks to find common ground with four of his senior colleagues who went public with their claims that he was allocating important cases in the apex court to junior judges, CJI Dipak Misra on Thursday prepared a roster and put it up on the Supreme Court of India’s website.

This is the first time in the Supreme Court’s history that a roster for Supreme Court judges has been made public.

The new roster which lists subject/category wise distribution of matters amongst all the benches, will come into effect from Feburary 5 and continue until otherwise notified by the CJI.

As per the roster put out in public domain, the Chief justice of India will hear all Public Interest Litigations; election, criminal, and social justice cases; and cases relating to the appointment of constitutional functionaries.

People familiar with the matter said the roster has been drawn up by CJI Misra without any consultation with other judges.

“Drawing up of the roster by the CJI is not anything new. CJI Misra has only made it public. I think it should not be made public,” said former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan.

“This seems to be some sort of a settlement move by the CJI Misra with the four senior judges of the court who have a difference with him over work allocation. The demand of the four judges is that CJI should be just, fair and reasonable in allocating a case”, added Balakrishnan.

Senior advocate Sanjay Hedge welcomed the move, though: “As the old legal saying goes that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Making public the roster will make the whole system of allocation of cases transparent and will eliminate a lot of guesswork.”

Last week, the four senior judges of the Supreme Court who attacked the CJI for what they see as his arbitrary manner of work allocation, suggested that a committee of future CJIs – Justices R Gogoi, SA Bobde, NV Ramana, UU Lalit and DY Chandrachud -- be set up to help frame rules for work allocation in the top court.

The four judges, Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph organized a press conference on January 12 during which they criticised the Chief justice of India for the way he was allocating cases.

The tipping point for the four judges was the case of Judge Brijgopal Loya.

Two petitions dem- anding a fair probe into his mysterious death were listed before a bench that is headed by a judge who is 10th in terms of seniority.

They believed a matter as serious as this should have been he- ard by someone more senior. The drawing up of the roster has been a sticking point between CJI Mi- sra and four judges since then.

First Published: Feb 01, 2018 16:23 IST