Judiciary Current Affairs

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.

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Lok Sabha passes Bill to hike salaries of judges

The Lok Sabha passed High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017 to hike the salaries of judges of the Supreme Court (SC) and High Courts (HCs).

The Bill seeks to amend HC Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954; and SC Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958.  These Acts regulate salaries and conditions of service of judges of HCs and SC.

Key Features of Bill

Salary: The Bill proposes to hike the salary of Chief Justice of India (CJI) to Rs.2.80 lakh a month and that of judges of Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts to Rs. 2.5 lakh a month. It increases salary of Judges of High Courts to Rs.2.25 lakh a month. The salary hike will come into force with effect from January 1, 2016.

Allowances:  The Bill also seeks to revise this allowance with effect from September 22, 2017. The CJI will get allowance of Rs. 45,000 a month. Judges of Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts will get allowance of Rs. 34000 a month. Judges of High Court will get allowance of Rs. 27000 a month.

Pension: The Bill seeks to revise the pension for judges under two categories mentioned in parent acts viz. if they have previously held pensionable post under central or state governments, or if they have not held any such post. It proposes pension of Rs. 16,80,000 per annum to CJI. Judges of the Supreme Court and Justice of High Court will get pension of Rs. 15,00,000 per annum.

Background

The salary hike in line with recommendations of 7th Pay Commission for officers of all-India services. The CJI gets a higher amount than this while judges of High Courts get lesser amount. Moreover, these judges are provided with rent-free accommodation while they are in service.

The salaries and allowances CJI and Supreme Court judges are charged from Consolidated Fund of India. The salaries and allowances of state high court judges including chief justices are charged from Consolidated Fund of State. However, retired Judges are entitled to pension which is drawn from Consolidated Fund of India.

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