New Delhi, Apr 11: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Chief Justice of India (CJI) has the authority to decide on allocation of cases and setting of benches as it dismissed a PIL seeking the framing of rules to regulate the composition of benches, including constitution benches, and the allocation of work.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said that the CJI was the head of the institution and administrative authority is vested in him for the smooth functioning of the top court both on judicial and administrative matters.
Junking the PIL by advocate Asok Pande, Justice Chandrachud said that as the head of the institution there cannot be a presumption of distrust in the Chief Justice. The petitioner sought that a five-judge constitution bench should either have five senior-most judges of the top court or three senior most judges and two junior most judges.
Pande has also sought that the three-judge bench in the Chief Justice’s court should consist of the Chief Justice and two senior most judges of the court. Seeking the framing of Rules to regulate the composition of benches, he said that this would regulate the unfettered powers being exercised by the Chief Justice in the formation of benches.
The development comes months after the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court held an unprecedented press conference, mounting a virtual revolt against the Chief Justice. They warned that these problems, including allocation of cases by the Chief Justice, could damage Indian democracy.
The four rebel judges — Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Lokur and Kurian Joseph – said that “things are not in order” at the Supreme Court. The judges did not refer to any particular matter the Chief Justice had decided in assigning benches.
Asked specifically if they were upset over reference of the matter seeking a probe into the suspicious death of Special CBI Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, Justice Gogoi said: “Yes.”