NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is the “first among equals” and has the constitutional authority to decide the allocation of cases and setting up of benches to hear them. The apex court made the observation while dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking framing of guidelines for rational and transparent allocation of cases and constitution of benches to hear them.
The decision was taken by a bench of judges comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud. Writing the judgment for the bench, Justice Chandrachud referred to constitutional schemes and said: “the Chief Justice of India is first among equals and has the authority to decide the allocation of cases and setting up of benches”.
Since the CJI is a high constitutional functionary, there cannot be “any distrust about the responsibilities he discharges” to ensure that the Supreme Court to carries out the work required under the Constitution, the order stated.
The PIL was filed in the backdrop of the January 12 press conference held by senior-most apex court judges including Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, an unprecedented event. The judges had alleged improper allocation of cases by the CJI.
The PIL was filed by an Ashok Pande seeking guidelines for the Supreme Court and all the high courts on the allocation of cases and the setting up of benches.