CJI has authority to decide allocation of cases, rules SC


"If there is any attempt to block the appointments of judges recommended by the collegiums, the Chief Justice of India must resist and ensure the appointments".

Rejecting a plea for guidelines on the setting up of benches and allocation of work to judges, the bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also said there can not be a "presumption of mistrust" against the CJI.

At this juncture, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal said he had come to court with a "heavy heart" and added that he didn't want to make any personal charges as that would harm the institution.

It would help greatly if the process of allocation of benches is seen to be entirely transparent, and to be fair to CJI Misra he has rolled out two key measures in this direction: the twin publications of collegium recommendations on judicial appointments and a subject-wise roster for allocation of fresh cases. More than anything else, it sends a wrong message which is loud and clear to all Judges down the line not to cause any displeasure to the Executive lest they should suffer. Justice Joseph referred to the Centre's three-month-long inaction on the recommendation to appoint Uttarakhand CJ K M Joseph and senior advocate Indu Malhotra as judges of the SC. Indeed senior SC judge Kurian Joseph set to retire this year has written an anguished letter to the CJI, calling for urgent action to defend the independence of the judiciary.

In these circumstances, I am of the view that following the precedent in Justice Karnan's case, we should take u the matter on the judicial side in a Bench of first seven or more as you please.

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"Such matters should be placed before the collegium", he said.

Besides, he said the depleted strength of 24 judges instead of 31 are reeling under the pressure of work. You may recall as has been the practice, it was out decision to send the names in a phased manner so that there may not be any administrative or other difficulty. The dignity, honour and respect of this institution is going down day by day since we are not able to take the recommendations for appointment to this court to their logical conclusion. Unless such a surgical intervention is made the appropriate time, the child in the womb dies. "In the allocation of cases and the constitution of benches, the Chief Justice has an exclusive prerogative", the bench that also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is the "first among equals" and has the constitutional authority to decide the allocation of cases and setting up of benches to hear them.

The plea filed by Shanti Bhushan, a senior advocate and former law minister, and his son, Prashant Bhushan, called for the authority to allocate important and sensitive cases to be extended to the Supreme Court's four senior-most judges, apart from the chief justice.