Chief Justice of India Current Affairs

Supreme Court once again upholds Chief Justice of India as Master of Roster

The Supreme Court in latest ruling once again has upheld Chief Justice of India (CJI) as ‘Master of Roster’. According to ruling given by SC bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, CJI is an individual judge and not the powerful collective of five senior-most judges of Supreme Court called the ‘Collegium’. CJI has exclusive authority to allocate cases to fellow judges and is spokesperson of the court.

Background

The judgment was based on petition filed by former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan for considering expression CJI should be read as meaning Collegium for the purpose of allocation of cases. The petition had mentioned that to have collegium of Supreme Court judges collectively to allocate cases rather than leave the entire power in the hands of CJI in his administrative capacity as the ‘Master of Roster’. This is the third time Supreme Court has declared its Chief Justice as the ‘Master of Roster’. Earlier the apex court in two separate judgments in November 2017 and April 2018 had upheld CJI ‘s complete administrative authority to allocate cases and constitute Benches.

Recent SC Ruling (on petition of Shanti Bhushan)

Court agreed with the submission of Attorney General K K Venugopal that if allocation of cases and constitution of benches is given in multiple hands, it will lead to differences and hurdles in smooth distribution of work.

Role of Chief Justice: Though, Constitution is silent on role of Chief Justice and  does not have there is no specific provision relating thereto either in Constitution or even in any other law, but judicial position in previous judgments of court on this topic was based on sound conventions and has developed healthy practice  over time.

As per these precedents and conventions, CJI is empowered to exercise leadership on the court, and in this role he is expected to be spokesperson and representative of judiciary in its dealings with executive, among others. CJI has authority and responsibility for administration of the apex court, which gives him ultimate authority for determining the distribution of judicial work load.

CJI being the first among equals: The phrase is generally relatable to judicial function designed to emphasise fact that voices of members of particular bench, which may include ‘Chief Justice’, are given equal weight and that in deciding cases. In such bench opinion of Chief Justice carries same weight and is no different from those of other members of the bench. Thus, in given case, there is possibility that Chief Justice’s view may be minority view and in that eventuality, outcome of case may be what majority decides. The word first in this this case signifies only fact that Chief Justice is the seniormost judge of the court.

Month: Categories: India Current Affairs 2018

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CJI first among equals, power to allocate work: SC

The Supreme Court has reiterated that Chief Justice of India (CJI) is first among equals and has exclusive prerogative to allocate cases and constitute benches. The ruling was given by SC bench led by the CJI Dipak Misra dismissing PIL that sought directions to regulate CJI’s power to form benches and allocate cases.

SC Ruling 

The CJI in his capacity as judge is primus inter pares, first among equals. In discharge of his other functions, CJI occupies position which is sui generis, in class by itself. Article 146 reaffirms position CJI as head of institution. From institutional perspective, CJI is placed at helm of SC. In the allocation of cases and constitution of benches, CJI has exclusive prerogative. CJI is institution in himself as he is repository of constitutional trust. The authority which is conferred upon CJI is vested in high constitutional functionary necessary for efficient transaction of administrative and judicial work of SC.

The ultimate purpose behind entrustment of authority to CJI is to ensure that SC is able to fulfil and discharge constitutional obligations which govern and provide rationale for its existence. The entrustment of functions to CJI as head of institution, is with purpose of securing position of SC as independent safeguard for preservation of personal liberty. There cannot be a presumption of mistrust. The oath of office demands nothing less.

Background

The ruling comes more than four months after five-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court asserted that CJI alone had power to draw up benches and allot work to them. This was also reaffirmed few days later by three-judge bench which dismissed a plea seeking a court-monitored probe into medical college admission scam allegedly involving former Orissa High Court judge. But the controversy over allocation of work by CJI in SC refused to ebb as its four most senior judges — Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Ranjan Gogoi and Kurian Joseph called an unprecedented press conference in January 2018 to raise questions about the conduct of CJI, especially on allocation of work.

Month: Categories: India Current Affairs 2018

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