Published: Fri, April 13, 2018
Health Care | By Belinda Paul

Chief Justice of India has power to decide allocation of cases

Chief Justice of India has power to decide allocation of cases

Justice Kurian Joseph has urged the Supreme Court to act against the government's delay in approving two appointments to the top court despite the collegium's recommendation, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

Despite Chelameswar's letter, the press conference, questions raised by judicial activists, and now Justice Joseph's letter, CJI Misra has maintained silence.

"The responsibility thrust on the Chief Justice is for the safeguard of the independence of the judiciary", it said.

Incidentally, after the Modi government started dragging its feet on appointments recommended by an earlier collegium, the then CJI, T.S. Thakur, constituted a bench and began hearings on the issue, even issuing an ultimatum to the Modi government against holding up appointments without any reason.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea challenging the leadership of chief justice Dipak Misra in so far as the procedure for allotment of cases to different benches in the apex court was concerned. Malhotra's elevation had been received with great pomp and joy throughout, as she was set to become the first woman judge to be elevated directly from the bar.

The bench said the Supreme Court has been authorised under Article 145 to frame the rules of procedure.

The government is sitting on the recommendations of the collegium and the time has come for the Supreme Court to question the executive about it, Justice Joseph said in a strongly worded letter to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

On January 10, the Supreme Court collegium, a group of top judges, had chose to recommend the names of senior advocate Indu Malhotra and Justice KM Joseph, Chief Justice of Uttarakhand High Court for the Supreme Court.

The Narendra Modi-led government may also be wary of Justice Joseph, who was a part of the bench that had quashed the imposition of President's Rule in Uttarakhand in 2016 paving way for Congress's Harish Rawat to reform his government.

At present, the constitution of the judges that make up a Constitution bench (comprising 5 judges) is determined by the CJI.

Justice Chandrachud said: "The authority which is conferred upon the CJI, it must be remembered, is vested in a high constitutional functionary".

The entrustment of functions to the CJI as the head of the institution, is with the objective of securing the position of the Supreme Court as an independent safeguard for the preservation of personal liberty, it said, adding "there can not be a presumption of mistrust".

It had also sought "bifurcation of apex court into a "Supreme criminal court", with similar divisions to hear PIL, tax, service, land disputes and miscellaneous matters".

-All the judgement and orders should be dictated in open court by all the three judges or both the judges of the bench alternatively.

Prior to their January press conference, Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph had released a letter written to Misra alleging "selective assignment of cases to preferred judges" and that "sensitive cases were being allotted to junior judges".

They had contended "things are not in order" and "many undesirable things are happening".

Subsequently, the CJI made the roster system public and portfolios were published on the Supreme Court website.

"Members of any multi-membered judicial body including this court would not arrogate to themselves the authority to deal with and pronounce upon matters which ought to be heard by appropriate benches", the judges had said. "The oath of office demands nothing less", said the judgment rejecting a PIL for framing of rules for regulating the constitution of benches and allocation of cases.

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