Justice Chelameswar refuses to hear PIL on allocating cases to SC benches

New Delhi, April 12: Justice J. Chelameswar, the second senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, on Thursday refused to hear a case filed by former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan questioning the authority of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) as master of the roster, saying “why should I, let this country decide its own course”. Soon after, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for his petitioner father, mentioned the plea before a bench headed Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and it agreed to look into the issue. Bhushan, mentioning the plea before Justice Chelameswar, requested the bench to take up the case seeking allocation of work to be done by a Collegium and argued that he had filed the plea last week but apex court registry was yet to list it. Justice Chelameswar, refusing to interfere, said: “I would not like to deal with this matter… let this country decide its own course.”
When Bhushan told the bench that the petition was filed last week and despite several follow ups, it has not been numbered yet, Justice Chelameswar said “ (for) reasons too obvious in the history of the country I would not deal with this matter”. In an unprecedented move, on January 12, four senior Supreme Court judges, including Justice Chelameswar, had called a press conference to express their displeasure with the CJI Dipak Mishra and with the way he was assigning cases.
During the mentioning of the case, Bhushan further said that he has written a letter to the court’s Secretary General asking that the PIL be placed before three seniormost judges after the CJI to obtain their instruction on its listing but nothing has been done. After repeated requests from Bhushan to hear the plea, Justice Chelameswar said: “Let it take its own course of action. It’s not my problem anymore. Sorry, I am not taking it up.”
On Wednesday, CJI Misra’s bench had dismissed another PIL by advocate Asok Pande seeking framing of rules for regulating the constitution of benches and allocation of cases. The bench said it was the “prerogative” of the Chief Justice of India – a high constitutiol functiory – to form the benches and allocate cases and that authority can’t be regulated on the mere apprehension of it being exercised arbitrarily. (IANS)