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Published On: Wed, Apr 11th, 2018

CJI has authority on allocation of cases: Supreme Court

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CJI_0NEW DELHI : Amid questions being raised by no less than other judges in the same Court, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Chief Justice of India is a high constitutional office entrusted with the duty to constitute Benches and allocate cases for the smooth dispensation of justice by the Supreme Court.

Junking the PIL by advocate Asok Pande, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said that the CJI was the head of the institution and administrative authority is vested in him for the smooth functioning of the top court both on judicial and administrative matters.

Pronouncing the judgment on behalf of the Bench, Justice Chandrachud said “There cannot be a presumption of distrust against the Chief Justice of India in his exclusive prerogative, granted by the Constitution, to set up Benches and allocate cases to judges.
Justice Chandrachud, writing the judgment for the bench, referred to constitutional schemes and said “the Chief Justice of India is first among equals and has the authority to decide allocation of cases and setting up of benches”.”There cannot be a presumption of mistrust (against the CJI). Let this issue be put to rest now,” said Justice DY Chandrachud, who authored the judgment for the bench.

The Court further maintained that the office of the CJI is an independent safeguard under the constitutional scheme and that instrument of powers with the CJI is to enable the top court carry out its functions.
In January, the four most senior judges held an unprecedented press conference raising questions over the manner in which CJI Misra was allocating politically sensitive cases to certain select benches. It had come days after CJI Misra, heading a five-judge Constitution Bench, had declared through a ruling that CJI is “the master of the roster.
Justice J Chelameswar, one of the four judges in that press conference, reiterated last week during a public talk that not everything is well in the Supreme Court as far as allocation of sensitive cases to benches are concerned.
This is the second time the Supreme Court has declared the Chief Justice of India as the master of roster. On both occasions, Chief Justice Misra headed the Benches.  This time the Supreme Court said the question should be put to rest finally with Wednesday’s judgment.
Mr. Pande’s petition came up for hearing almost immediately after Supreme Court’s number two judge, Justice Jasti Chelameswar, attacked the CJI’s discretionary powers to constitute Benches and allocate cases.
With Agency Inputs ).

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