There was no doubt that the Chief Justice of India was the ‘Master of Roster, the Supreme Court said on Friday. In separate but concurring judgments, a Bench Justice AK Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan reiterated the legal position on the controversial issue that has often hit headlines in recent months.
The top court dismissed former law minister Shanti Bhushans petition seeking guidelines to regulate CJI’s administrative powers, including those of allocating work to fellow judges and benches.
This is the third Supreme Court verdict in recent times on the controversial issue of roster. It had delivered two separate verdicts in November 2017 and April 2018 upholding the CJI’s authority as Master of Roster to allocate cases and constitute Benches. Both judgments were pronounced by Benches headed by CJI Dipak Misra.
The roster issue has been in the news since January 12 when four of the top court’s then most senior judges—Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurian Joseph—addressed the media to highlight their grievances over the manner of allocation of cases by the CJI Dipak Misra.
Several senior advocates who argued against the CJI’s power to allocate cases to judges/benches wanted the Collegium to be involved in the process.