The Supreme Court on Friday said it would examine a petition filed by former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan seeking the regulation of the powers the chief justice of India has as master of the roster.
The bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan sought the assistance of Attorney General KK Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta in dealing with the plea.
The petitioner’s counsel Dushyant Dave told the bench that the plea was based on the principle of “May you be howsoever high, the law is above you”. “We are not against any particular order,” Dave said, according to Bar and Bench. “We are not here to make any personal allegation against anyone.”
He argued that sensitive cases like the ones that “directly touch upon the very survival of the democracy” should not be left to the discretion of the chief justice alone.
The bench asked for suggestions on alternative mechanisms, because having a collegium instead of the chief justice decide on the roster would mean multiple judges would be engaged in it every day.
The court will hear the matter next on April 27.
In a press conference in January, four senior judges of the Supreme Court had raised questions, among other things, about Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra’s role as the “master of roster”. They had questioned the chief justice for bypassing established traditions of the court in assigning cases to benches.
In his plea, Shanti Bhushan said that the “master of roster cannot be unguided and unbridled discretionary power, exercised arbitrarily” by the Chief Justice by “hand-picking benches or judges”.