A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by the CJI will begin hearing the petitions Tuesday. Others on the bench are Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The Supreme Court upheld the Chief Justice of India’s role as “Master of Roster”. In his petition, Shanti Bhushan had questioned the CJI as the ‘Master of Roster’ and wanted either the Collegium or a full court to decide the allocation of cases.
Shekhar and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, appearing for one of the Delhi-based petitioners Sameena Begum, alleged that she was threatened and asked to withdraw her petition challenging ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy among Muslims.
His remarks come in the background of the controversy over the government asking the collegium to reconsider its recommendation to elevate Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph to the apex court.
The matter of ‘segregation’ of names and the return of Justice Joseph’s file is being seen as a symbol of judicial independence, as all eyes are on how far the Collegium is keen to assert itself to the Centre and insist its nominees get sworn in.
Manoj Gorkela, Uttarakhand’s deputy advocate general, who is representing the state in the case, said, “We we will present her in court. She can decide whether she wishes to stay with her family, or Danish’s family.”
The difference in phrasing this time could be significant as the Centre, while rejecting the elevation of Justice K M Joseph, had cited seniority (he is 42nd in the All India Judges seniority list), regional representation and the lack of SC/STs representation.
In a series of tweets, he said the Congress’s “latest misadventure against the judiciary has been the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India,” which, he said, was “wholly misconceived. It is poorly drafted and lacked in substance.”
On Monday, the petition was mentioned before a bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S K Kaul. Though senior advocate Kapil Sibal requested the judges to list it, they did not oblige him and told him to return Tuesday.
The petition contends that once a removal motion signed by MPs is submitted to the Rajya Sabha Chairman, he has no option but to constitute an inquiry committee to look into the charges.
Markandey Katju, who was also a former chairman of the Press Council of India, says the scenario of the country’s legal system is not encouraging.
At the centre of a storm within the Collegium which has been in a standoff with the government over the appointment of judges, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Friday said “the Supreme Court is one” and there is need for cordial relations between the Bar and the Bench.
The resolution adopted by the Collegium and uploaded on the official website of the apex court ends abruptly with the remark “Deferred.”
All the members of the Collegium — CJI Misra and Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph — are expected to attend the meeting.
Twice in the last few months, he said, the Supreme Court has emphasized that the CJI is master of the roster. “Yes, he is. But does that give him the authority to do what he wants?” Justice Lodha said.