New Delhi: The tussle between Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and senior judges of the Supreme Court took a new turn on Thursday with justice J. Chelameswar refusing to hear a plea challenging the system of allocation of cases by the CJI.

The plea challenging the “unbridled and exclusive powers of the Chief Justice" was brought by advocate and former law minister Shanti Bhushan and lawyer/social activist Prashant Bhushan.

Justice Chelameswar, who is set to retire on 22 June, justified his refusal thus: “I don’t want another reversal of my order in 24 hours. Let the country decide its own course."

He was part of the unprecedented press conference of senior judges in January that raised the issue of improper allocation of cases and since then has spoken about the administrative issue at other forums, most recently in an interview to Karan Thapar on 7 April.

Thereafter, the matter was mentioned before a bench headed by the Chief Justice, who said that he would look into it. The matter has now been listed for hearing before a bench comprising justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan on Friday.

A day earlier, a bench led by the CJI dismissed a plea challenging his prerogative to allot cases and decide composition of benches of the apex court.

Holding that the chief justice is at the “helm of the institution" and was conferred with authority under the Constitution to take decisions on allotment of cases, justice D.Y. Chandrachud said, “There should not be a ‘presumption of mistrust’ in the discharge of duties by the chief justice."

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