On Thursday, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra put in place a new roster system for allocation of cases in the Supreme Court in what could be a move to address the grievances by four senior-most judges.
Justice Misra has kept to himself the public interest litigation (PIL) cases under the roster system that will come into effect from 5 February (Monday) onwards until next orders from the CJI. Previously, the cases in the apex court were assigned by the CJI in his capacity as master of the roster.
The CJI also allocated to the bench headed by him the petitions based on letters, election cases and matters pertaining to contempt of court and constitutional functionaries. He will also deal with cases related to commissions of enquiry, statutory appointments and appointment of other law officers, habeas corpus (a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a court) matters and social justices cases.
The order of Justice Misra was made public on the official website of the apex court. The 13-page notification said a roster of the work for fresh cases notified under the order of the CJI will come into effect from 5 February till further orders. The decision to make public the roster system assumes significance as the four senior-most judges — Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice MB Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph — in their 12 January press conference had questioned the allocation of sensitive PILs and important cases to judges junior in seniority and sought transparency.
The notification has given the category of matters that would be allocated to the benches headed by the CJI and 11 other judges — Justice Chelameswar, Justice Gogoi, Justice Lokur, Justice Joseph, Justice AK Sikri, Justice SA Bobde, Justice RK Agrawal, Justice NV Ramana, Justice Arun Mishra, Justice AK Goel and Justice RF Nariman.
The four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court have been allotted important cases in the new roster.
As per the roster, the bench headed by Justice Chelameswar, the senior-most judge after the CJI, would deal with matters related to judicial officers, employees of Supreme Court, high courts, district courts and tribunals for hearings. The bench will also deal with matters like labour, indirect tax, land acquisition and requisition, compensation, criminal matters, etc.
Justice Gogoi, who, during the press conference, had answered in affirmative the concern over the allocation of the PILs relating to the late special CBI Judge BH Loya to a bench headed by a particular judge, has been allocated matters relating to labour, indirect tax, company law, MRTP, TRAI, SEBI, RBI, criminal matters, contempt of court, personal law, religious and charitable endowments, mercantile laws, commercial transactions including banking etc. He will also hear matters related to judicial officers, state excise-trading in liquor-privileges, licences and distilleries and breweries.
Similarly, a bench headed by Justice Lokur has been allocated matters including service, social justice, personal laws, land acquisition, mines and minerals and consumer protection. He will also hear matters related to ecological imbalance: protection and conservation of forests throughout the country, protection of wild life, ban on felling trees and falling of underground water level.
Justice Jospeh’s bench has been assigned to deal with matters including labour, rent act, family law, contempt of court, personal law etc. He will also hear matters relatedto religious and charitable endowments and all land laws and agriculture tenancies.
Report By: Tushar Solanki, Co-Convener, INBA