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CJI Takes Away Judge’s Bribery Case From Justice Chelameswar’s Bench

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on Saturday pulled out a PIL, seeking inquiry against sitting and retired judges of constitutional courts, from Justice J Chelameswar’s bench.

The CJI, passing an administrative order, has also overturned a judicial order passed by Justice Chelameswar’s bench on Thursday. Now, instead of a five-judge bench, a three-judge bench will hear the case.

The controversy, which signified an unprecedented power tussle in the Supreme Court, had erupted after Justice Chelameswar entertained this PIL on Thursday on an urgent basis and issued an order for setting up a bench comprising first five judges.

The PIL had sought exclusion of the CJI from hearing this case on the ground that investigation into the case over granting recognition to medical colleges might reach his doorsteps too. Thus, Justice Chelameswar’s order virtually meant non-inclusion of the CJI in this case.

But when a similar PIL with identical prayers came up before another bench on Friday, the matter was referred to the CJI, who within hours set up a five-judge bench.

The larger bench, headed by Justice Misra then declared that the CJI is the “master of the roster”, having the exclusive power to decide which case will go to which judge in the Supreme Court.

It also indirectly annulled the order passed by Justice Chelameswar, holding that any such order shall be “ineffective” and will not be binding since only the CJI can decide where and how a case is to be listed for hearing.

Giving effect to this order in less than 24 hours, the CJI on Saturday withdrew the PIL from the bench headed by Justice Chelameswar and assigned it to a three-judge bench.

The judges on the new bench – Justices R K Agrawal, Arun Mishra and A M Khanwilkar – were also part of the Constitution Bench that has ruled that no other judge can decide to hear a case by himself nor can he instruct the CJI to set up a particular bench in the top court.

The new bench will hear the case at 3.30 pm on Monday.

Not just this, in an apparent reminder to all, a new circular was issued on Saturday, making it clear that henceforth, all lawyers must seek hearing for all new cases before the CJI.

The circular stated: “It is hereby notified for the information of the Members of the Bar and the Parties appearing in person· that henceforth oral mentioning, in respect of matters which have not already been assigned/listed before any other bench, will be allowed only before the Court presided over by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India at
10.30 am.”

The latest developments demonstrate assertion of authority by the CJI as the “master of the roster” at a time when two PILs have contended that the apex court should get an impartial investigation conducted under its monitoring since the probe may encompass judges at the highest level too.

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Source: News18