SC says CJI is master of roster and has authority to allocate cases to different benches

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The Supreme Court today maintained that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is the master of roster and has the prerogative and authority to allocate cases to different benches of the apex court.

A bench comprising justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan in their separate concurring verdicts said the CJI occupies the role of first among equals and is empowered to exercise leadership in administration of court which includes assignment of cases.

In his verdict today, Justice Sikri said, there is no dispute that CJI is the master of roster and has authority to allocate cases to different benches of the Supreme Court. Concurring with Justice Sikri’s opinion, Justice Bhushan said the CJI has the prerogative to allocate cases and nominate benches to hear them.

Justice Sikri said the erosion of judiciary in the minds of people is greatest threat to judicial system. He said CJI, being the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court is the spokesperson and leader of judiciary. The bench said that no system is foolproof and there is always scope for improvement in functioning of judiciary.

The verdict came on a plea of former Law Minister, Shanti Bhushan challenging the existing roster practice of allocation of cases in the apex court by the Chief Justice of India.

A five-judge constitution bench and a three-judge bench have already held that the CJI is the master of the roster.

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