Chief Justice highest authority, says SC; rejects plea for new rules on roster

Chief Justice highest authority, says SC; rejects plea for new rules on roster

New Delhi: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday has rejected a plea to frame fresh guidelines on the allocation of cases in the top court.
The bench said the “Chief Justice of India is the first among equals and has the authority to decide allocation of cases and setting up of benches.”
The plea was filed after four top judges held an unprecedented press conference in January, saying things “were not in order” in the apex court’s administration. They had attacked the Chief Justice’s discretionary powers in assigning cases and constituting benches.
The judges said the Chief Justice was the highest authority in this matter, an institution in himself and that such a plea was scandalous.
The petition was heard by Chief Justice Dipak Mishra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud.
Lawyer Asok Pande had filed the petition soon after the judges’ press conference in January. His petition said, “Unfettered power is being exercised by the Chief Justices in the matter of formation of benches, and so, the same is liable to be regulated through specific rules.”
The petition also said three-judge benches in the Chief Justice’s court should include the two senior-most after him. It also prayed that the Constitution bench should have the five senior-most judges – that is, the CJI, Justices Chelameshwar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
The last four judges had spoken to the media in January, reportedly angry that a case that sought probe into the death of CBI judge B H Loya, was assigned to a judge who was number 10 in the apex court hierarchy.