Senior advocate and former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan today filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking clarification on the administrative authority of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) as the master of roster and for laying down the principles and procedure to be followed in preparing it for allocation of cases.
He filed the PIL through his advocate and son Prashant Bhushan who wrote a letter to the supreme court’s secretary general stating that the matter should not be listed before a bench that includes the CJI.
In the letter, Prashant also said that 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, CJI Dipak Misra has been named as one of the respondents along with the registrar of the Supreme Court.
The senior advocate 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 said the 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 said that such an authority should be exercised by him 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- Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph- 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 supreme court.