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Agreeing with the judges who went public, former judges pen an open letter to CJI Dipak Misra

A former Supreme Court Judge, a former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court and two other former judges of High Courts penned an open letter to the CJI stating ,“we agree with the four Judges”

PTI photo
PTI photo

Vikrant Jha

Former Judge of Supreme Court of India, Justice P.B. Sawant (Retd.) and former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court A.P. Shah (Retd.), along with two other former judges of High Courts, penned a letter to Chief Justice Dipak Misra, supporting the four senior judges of the Supreme Court who went public with their difference with CJI Misra.

“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,” judges wrote in an open letter addressed to the CJI.

Demanding ‘clear rules and norms for allocation of benches and distribution of cases’, the former judges suggested, “However, till that is done, it is important that all sensitive and important cases including pending ones, be dealt with by a Constitution Bench of the five senior most Judges of this Court.

Calling it an ‘important letter’, Prashant Bhushan, a renowned lawyer and activist, tweeted, “Important letter to CJI by former judges, about the pressing need for a fair, rational and transparent method for allocating cases to benches, to avoid bench fixing by CJI.” “Pending that, all sensitive cases must be before bench of five senior judges,” he noted.

Apart from Justices Sawant and Shah, the letter is signed by Justice K. Chandru, (Retd.) former Judge, Madras High Court and ustice H. Suresh, (Retd.) former Judge, Bombay High Court.

Here is the full text of the letter by the former judges to CJI Dipak Misra:

“Dear Chief Justice,

The four senior puisne Judges of the Supreme Court have brought to light a serious issue regarding the manner of allocation of cases, particularly sensitive cases, to various benches of the Supreme Court. They have expressed a grave concern that cases are not being allocated in a proper manner and are being allocated arbitrarily to particular designated benches, often headed by junior judges, in an arbitrary manner. This is having a very deleterious effect on the administration of justice and the rule of law.

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. However, till that is done, it is important that all sensitive and important cases including pending ones, be dealt with by a Constitution Bench of the five senior most Judges of this Court.

Only such measures would assure the people that the Supreme Court is functioning in a fair and transparent manner and that the power of the Chief Justice as master of roster is not being misused to achieve a particular result in important and sensitive cases. We therefore urge you to take immediate steps in this regard.”

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Published: 14 Jan 2018, 6:57 PM