In Open Letter, 4 Former Judges Call For Transparency In Case Allocation

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 for allocation of cases that would convince people that there was no “abuse of power”. The distribution of cases by the Chief Justice had been flagged by the four most senior judges of the Supreme Court on Friday at a press conference that sent shock waves through the nation.

“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,” Retired Justices PB Sawant, AP Shah, K Chandru and H Suresh wrote in their open letter.

This, the letter said, was necessary to convince people 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”.

On Friday, the four dissenting judges — Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice M B Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph — had expressed concern about the assignment of sensitive cases and what they said was a lack of transparency in the process. As the “Master of the roster”, the Chief Justice decides on the allotment of cases. The judges said the Master of the Roster is only the “first among equals”.

Sources in the judiciary had said there is no bias and the cases are distributed fairly among judges.

The retired judges, in their open letter, suggested that till “clear rules and norms” are not 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”.

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