Shanti Bhushan seeks SC direction on CJI's powers

Shanti Bhushan seeks SC direction on CJI's powers”

Senior advocate and former law minister Shanti Bhushan on Friday filed a PIL in the Supreme Court for clarification on the administrative authority of the chief justice of India (CJI) as the "master of roster" and seeking laying down of principles and procedures to be followed in preparing the roster for allocation of cases to benches.

"It would hence be appropriate that this matter be placed before the three senior most judges of the Supreme Court to obtain their instructions on how this petition is to be listed", the petitioner said.

The senior lawyer has asked the Supreme Court to lay down new rules for the allocation of cases.

The petition refers to the incident where a five-judge Constitution Bench presided by CJI Dipak Misra was convened on short notice some time back to declare the CJI as 'master of roster.' The Constitution Bench at that time effectively nullified an order passed by a Bench led by the Supreme Court's number two judge, Justice Jasti Chelameswar, only the previous day.

In January, Supreme Court's senior-most four judges had held a press conference, openly criticising the working of country's top court under the current Chief Justice.

More news: Budget session of parliament to conclude today

Shanti Bhushan filed the petition seeking the term "Chief Justice of India" in this context should be not be interpreted as the Single authority but rather a collegium of senior judges.

Shanti Bhushan stated the "master of roster" can not have unguided and unbridled discretionary powers, exercised arbitrarily by the CJI by hand-picking benches of select judges.

"The absolute discretion of the CJI in allowing a particular case or disallowing another on oral mentioning is also another important aspect that needs to be scrutinised in its application and exercise".

"Bhushan states, "...the petition raises a very fundamental issue going to the root of the functioning of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India and as such is very critical to the interpretation of the Constitution of India and the Rule of Law in India".

Significantly, the Bhushans have asked that the case not be heard by incumbent Dipak Misra as he had previous year set up and headed the Constitution bench that declared the CJI's "master of roster" powers could not be questioned.

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