Law

The Supreme Court (SC) will soon have a new subject-wise roster system for allocation of cases to judges. It will come into effect from February 5.

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra will henceforth hear all PIL matters and letter petition himself.

The CJI's decision has been put in the public domain on the SC website.

The new Roster will now determine the type of cases that will be listed before Benches headed by the twelve seniormost judges of the Supreme Court viz. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur, Kurian Joseph, AK Sikri, SA Bobde, RK Agrawal, NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, AK Goel and Rohinton Nariman.

This decision comes in the wake of the unprecedented move by four seniormost judges who had called a press conference on January 12 and questioned the manner in which cases were being assigned to the Benches at the apex court.

The press conference was reportedly in response to the assignment of the Judge Loya case to J Arun Mishra's bench. 

They had detailed their grievances in a seven-page letter of protest which stated, “There have been instances where case having far-reaching consequences for the Nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justice of this Court selectively to the benches “of their preference” without any rationale basis for such assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs.”

“We are not mentioning details only to avoid embarrassing the institution but note that such departure have already damaged the image of this institution to some extent,” the letter said.

The letter further stated, “The convention of recognising the privilege of the CJI to form the roster and assign cases to different members/benches of the Court is a convention devised for a disciplined and efficient transition of business of the Court, but not a recognition of any superior authority, legal or factual of the Chief Justice over his colleagues.”

“It is too well settled in the jurisprudence of this country that the Chief Justice is only the first among the equals – nothing more or nothing less. In the matter of the determination of the roster there are well-settled and time honoured conventions guiding the Chief Justice, be the conventions dealing with the strength of the bench which is required to deal with the particular case or the composition thereof,” the letter said.