Three retired judges of different high courts and a former Supreme Court judge on Sunday wrote an open letter to Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and urged him to take “immediate steps” to resolve the crisis after four senior-most judges of the apex court went public against the way the institution is functioning. They wrote that while the CJI is the master of roster, it does not mean that allocation of work “can be done in an arbitrary manner…(and) sensitive and important cases are sent to hand-picked benches of junior judges”.
The former judges suggested that all “sensitive and important cases” should be dealt with by the Constitution bench of five senior-most judges until issues regarding allocation of benches are resolved. They also said that “clear rules and norms” must be laid down for allocation and distribution of cases, which are “rational, fair and transparent”.
At a press meet on Friday, Justices Ranjan Gogoi, J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph made public a seven-page letter, which mentioned “instances where case having far-reaching consequences for the nation and the institution had been assigned by the Chief Justices of this Court selectively to the benches of their preference without any rationale basis for such assignment”.
In their letter, Justices P B Sawant (former SC Judge), A P Shah (former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court), K Chandru (former judge of Madras High Court), and H Suresh (former judge of Bombay High Court) wrote: “We agree with the four Judges that though the Chief Justice of India is the master of roster and can designate benches for allocation of work, this does not mean that it can be done in an arbitrary manner such that, sensitive and important cases are sent to hand-picked benches of junior judges by the Chief Justice. This issue needs to be resolved and clear rules and norms must be laid down for allocation of benches and distribution of cases, which are rational, fair and transparent. This must be done immediately to restore public confidence in the judiciary and in the Supreme Court.”