Home / Politics / Policy /  CJI is the master of roster, reiterates Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a public interest litigation challenging the sole authority of the Chief Justice of India to decide the roster of judges for allocation of cases in the apex court.

Relying on "healthy practices and sound convention", a two judge bench of Justices A.K.Sikri and Ashok Bhushan held that CJI is the master of roster, and alone has the power the power to allocate cases.

In doing so, the court rejected the petitioner's contention that allocation must be done by the CJI in consultation with the five senior most judges of the court, saying that it was "difficult to accept" this proposition.

The court stated that the decision was arrived at "objectively and with a great sense of responsibility".

The verdict was reserved on former law minister Shanti Bhushan's plea challenging the existing system of roster for allocation of cases, by Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan in April.

The petition had argued that the process of deciding on the roster and allocation of matters to judges in the apex court should be decided by either the collegium or the full court, and not the Chief Justice of India alone.

The petitioner suggested that CJI must allocate cases in consultation with the senior judges of the Supreme Court.

The "master of roster" was not an "unguided and unbridled" discretionary power to be exercised arbitrarily by the CJI by hand-picking benches of select judges or by assigning cases to particular judges, it was contended.

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".

The petition came against the backdrop of the 12 January press conference held by four senior most judges of the top court alleging that the situation in the court was "not in order".

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal had opposed the plea saying that the exercise of allocation of cases has to be done by one person and that has to be the CJI in order to avoid 'chaos'.

With inputs from PTI

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