Two months after introducing a subject-wise roster system to hear cases in the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra recently made several changes in it. The new system came into effect on Monday, Live Law reported. The roster shows what type of cases will be listed before benches headed by the twelve most senior judges of the top court.
The changes came just days after senior lawyer and former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan moved the Supreme Court, urging that a collegium of five senior judges should exercise the power to allocate cases, and not only the chief justice of India.
The roster will apply to new cases.
Justices AK Sikri and RK Agrawal will now hear all election matters according to the latest roster. Sikri, who was earlier hearing matters related to religious and charitable endowments, will no longer hear those cases. They will be heard by Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph, Agrawal and NV Ramana.
Justice AK Goel will now hear new matters related to direct tax, Company Law, Monopolistic and Restrictive Trade Practice, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Reserve Bank and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority. He will also hear arbitration matters, mercantile laws and cases relating to educational institutions’ recognition.
Justice NV Ramana will also hear cases relating to admiralty and maritime laws, armed forces and paramilitary forces. He will no longer hear matters related to land laws and agricultural tenancies. They have been given to Justice Arun Mishra.
The bench headed by the chief justice will continue to hear all Public Interest Litigations and letter petitions. Misra will also hear cases related to elections, social justice, criminal matters, appointment of constitutional functionaries, commissions of enquiry and contempt of court matters.
Justice J Chelameswar, who ranks second in the court after Misra, will continue to hear cases pertaining to labour, indirect taxes, land acquisition, criminal matters, consumer protection, mortgage matters, those pertaining to judicial officers, admiralty and maritime laws. He will also hear all matters pertaining to employees of Supreme Court, High Courts, district courts and tribunals.
In an unprecedented press conference in January, four senior judges of the Supreme Court had raised questions about about Misra’s role as the “master of roster”, among other things. They questioned the chief justice for allegedly bypassing established traditions of the court in assigning cases to benches. On April 7 too, Chelameswar had reiterated that the chief justice’s power as “master of the roster” should be exercised responsibly.