New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) A PIL filed by former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan in the Supreme Court challenging the existing roster practice of allocation of cases by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) would come up for hearing tomorrow before a bench headed by the judge, who is number six in the seniority.
Hours after CJI Dipak Misra assured that he would look into the listing of the PIL, the cause list of the apex court showed that it has been listed for hearing before a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri.
Earlier in the day, the issue relating to the listing of Bhushan’s petition witnessed fast-moving drama in the apex court as his advocate son Prashant Bhushan mentioned it before a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar, the senior-most judge after the CJI.
After Justice Chelameswar declined to heed to Bhushan’s request, the lawyer moved the CJI’s bench which assured him that the matter would be looked into.
Now, a bench, in which Justice Ashok Bhushan will also be the member, will hear it tomorrow. The four judges – Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph who had held the unprecedented January 12 presser, are senior to Justice Sikri.
When the plea was filed, Prashant Bhushan had also written a letter to the secretary general of the apex court stating that the matter should not be listed before a bench that includes the CJI.
In the letter, Prashant had also said it would be appropriate that the petition be listed before three senior-most judges of the top court for allocating it before an appropriate bench.
In the petition, the CJI has been named as one of the respondents along with the registrar of the Supreme Court.
In his PIL, Shanti Bhushan has stated that the “master of roster” cannot 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.
The petition has said that 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.” It has said that such an authority should be exercised by the CJI in consultation with the senior judges of the Supreme Court in keeping with the various pronouncement of this court.
This petition assumes significance as on January 12 this year four senior most judges of the Supreme Court had called a press conference and said that the situation in the top court was “not in order” and many “less than desirable” things have taken place.
The four judges had also raised the issue of allocation of important and sensitive PILs before junior judges of the apex court.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.