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‘Master of roster’ in Supreme Court should be comprising of benches but not single authority says former Law Minister Bhushan

‘Master of roster’ in Supreme Court should be comprising of benches but not single authority says former Law Minister Bhushan

New Delhi: ‘Roster form’ in Apex Court is the allocation of categorized matters to assigned Judges by ‘master of roster’ or the Chief Justice of India.

Former Law Minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking a declaration that the authority of CJI alone should not be reduced to absolute arbitrary power to be the ‘master of roster’ procedure in Supreme Court.

According to Supreme Court Rules of 2013 the administrative function of the CJI is to allocate cases to the various Benches of Judges maintaining transparency while doing so.

Shanti Bhushan filed the petition seeking the term ‘Chief Justice of India’ in this context should be not be interpreted as the Single authority but rather a collegium of senior judges. He argued that the allocation of cases should not be done unilaterally by the CJI but collectively by the collegium of senior Judges to maintain the transparency, justice based on seniority and experience
in the cases.

It was only in a matter of short period of time CJI was declared as ‘master of roster’.

Subsequently, four senior-most judges- Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph went public on 12 January against the selective allocation of cases by the CJI to “preferred Benches.”

Mr. Bhushan in his petition asked the Apex court to “clarify the administrative authority of the CJI as the master of roster and for the laying down of the procedure and principles to be followed in preparing the roster for allocation of cases.”

“Master of roster cannot be unguided and unbridled discretionary power, exercised arbitrarily by the Chief Justice of India by hand-picking benches of select Judges or by assigning cases to particular judges,” the petition read.

The petition further said, “the collective opinion of a collegium of senior judges is much safer than the opinion of the Chief Justice alone.”