By SM.14 Jan, 2018
NEW DELHI: Four retired judges -- one from the Supreme Court and three from the High Court -- have written to the Chief Justice of India, asking for a "rational, fair and transparent" process of allocation of cases. Only this, the letter said, could assure people that there was no "misuse of power" to "achieve a particular result in important and sensitive cases".
Allocation can"t 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," Retired Justices PB Sawant, AP Shah, K Chandru and H Suresh wrote in their open letter.
The distribution of cases by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had been flagged by the four most senior judges of the Supreme Court on Friday at a press conference, uncovering a rift within the judiciary that had sent shock waves through the nation.
The dissenting judges -- Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice M B Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph -- had said that cases of "far-reaching consequences" were being allocated without transparency and "sensitive cases were being allotted to junior judges". They also said they had gone public after failing to make progress at a meeting with the Chief Justice of India to convey their concerns.
Denying their claims, sources in the judiciary had said there is no bias and the cases are distributed fairly among judges.
In their open letter, the retired judges suggested that till "clear rules and norms" were laid down for the allocation of cases, "all sensitive and important cases including pending ones, be dealt with by a Constitution Bench of the 5 senior most Judges of this Court".
Yesterday, the Supreme Court Bar Association, a representative body of Supreme Court lawyers, also appeared to side with the dissenting judges and suggested a similar solution. After an emergency meeting, the association said "a system must be developed to ensure that PILs don"t go beyond the first five courts".
Even pending petitions, they said, should allotted to five senior judges.