Former Law Minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan on Friday moved the Supreme Court for a declaration that the authority of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) as "master of roster" should not be reduced to an absolute, singular and arbitrary power.
In the petition, CJI Dipak Misra has been named as one of the respondents along with the registrar of the Supreme Court.
Senior advocate and former law minister Shanti Bhushan today filed a PIL in the Supreme Court for clarification on the administrative authority of the chief justice of India as the "master of roster" and seeking laying down of principles and procedures to be followed in preparing the roster for allocation of cases to benches.
The Supreme Court usually sits in benches of two judges.
"... The Hon'ble Chief Justice and the other Respondents herein appear to be clearly interfering with listing of matters particularly politically sensitive matters as some of the examples set out hereinabove clearly show", Bhushan's petition said.
Shanti Bhushan in his petition, claimed that since the matter involved CJI's power as master of roster, the CJI-led bench must not hear Shanti Bhushan's petition. Larger benches are formed as and when necessary.
Apart from setting up a constitution bench to reiterate the powers of the master of the roster, Misra had issued an administrative order that fresh mentioning of cases (request to list them) would only be allowed before the CJI.
Shanti Bhushan stated the "master of roster" can not have unguided and unbridled discretionary powers, exercised arbitrarily by the CJI by hand-picking benches of select judges.
Shanti Bhushan has also said his petition should not be heard by the Chief Justice and that it should be taken up by three most senior judges. The decision of allocation of cases should be done, not unilaterally by the CJI, but collectively by the Collegium. Chelmeswar is due to retire on 23 June. The immediate trigger for the unprecedented act of judges calling a press conference was the case involving Justice BH Loya, who died in 2012 of a cardiac arrest, at a time he was deciding on charges against BJP president Amit Shah.