CJI ‘Master of the Roster,’ has power to allocate cases: SC

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The Supreme Court on July 7 ruled on a petition challenging the existing roster practice of allocation of cases that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is the “master of the roster” and has the power to assign cases.

“The Chief Justice (CJI) has the role of first among equals and is empowered to exercise leadership in administration of the court which includes assignment of cases,” said Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, confirming the verdict by two previous benches.

“There is no dispute that the Chief Justice is the master of roster and allocates cases to Judges. The constitution is silent on the Chief Justice. Conventions and judgements over the time and accepted by all stake holders that the Chief Justice is first among judges and senior most,” said the judges.

“The erosion of judiciary in the minds of people is greatest threat to judicial system,” he said, adding that CJI, being the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court is the “spokesperson and leader of judiciary,” Justice Sikri added.

A judgment is based on the plea filed by former law minister Shanti Bhushan challenging the existing roster practice of allocation of cases.

“There are rich conventions and practices of the Supreme Court that are time-tested and should not be tinkered with,” Justice Bhushan said.