The Supreme Court settled the issue of allocating authority stating that there is no dispute that Chief Justice of India is the master of roster and has authority to allocate cases to different benches. The two-judge bench verdict came in the plea of former law minister Shanti Bhushan who had challenged the existing roster practice of allocation of cases in the apex court by the CJI.
“The Chief Justice, being the senior-most judge, is empowered to exercise leadership in administration of court which includes assignment of cases,” court said in its judgement.
The issue of master of roster cropped up after an unprecedented press conference by the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court this year January.
“The CJI occupies role of first among equals and has exclusive duty of allocating cases,” the two-judge bench, in separate concurring verdicts said, adding “it is the prerogative of CJI to allocate cases and nominate benches”
The Supreme Court also stated in its judgement that the erosion of judiciary in minds of people is greatest threat.
“Erosion of judiciary in minds of people is greatest threat to judicial system… Chief Justice being the senior-most judge of the court, is the spokesperson and leader of judiciary,” Justice AK Sikri said.
Other judge on the bench, Justice Ashok Bhushan said that there are rich conventions and practices of Supreme Court which are “time-tested and should not be tinkered with”.
Dismissing the plea, the court also stated that no system is foolproof and there is always scope for improvement in functioning of judiciary.
(With inputs from PTI)