Senior Advocate and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Dushyant Dave on Wednesday wrote an open letter to Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud expressing his displeasure over the change in listing of sensitive cases pending before the Supreme Court.
Dave claimed in his letter that many cases, which were being heard by certain Benches, were shifted and listed before other Benches in violation of the Supreme Court Rules and the Handbook on Practice and Procedure of the Court, which governed the listing of cases.
The Senior Advocate claimed that he has personally come across a number of cases listed before various Benches upon first listing and/ or in which notice have been issued, being taken away from those Benches and listed before other Benches.
He said despite first coram being available, the matters were being listed before Benches in which second coram presided, adding that the seniority of the first coram was also being ignored in the process.
Dave claimed that the matters listed before Court No. 2, 4, 6, 7 amongst others have been shifted out and listed before other Benches in clear disregard of the Rules, the Handbook on Practice and Office Procedure referred above and established Practice and Convention.
He said the matters so transferred involved questions of human rights, the functioning of constitutional institutions, democracy and freedom of speech.
The Senior Advocate said that his attention was also drawn by his colleagues at the Bar, seniors and Advocates on Record (AoRs) about various cases in which they have appeared in the first instance on numerous occasions, however, the matters were later listed before different Benches.
Dave said it would not be proper for him to enumerate these matters as many of them were currently pending.
Highlighting the provision in Handbook on Practice and Procedure of the Court which conferred an extraordinary power on the CJI to upset the roster and to “pick and choose” and allocate and assign any appeal or cause or matter to any judge or judges of the Court, the Senior Advocate said that the CJI can only exercise the power as per the practice and in case the coram as per roster was available, the Chief Justice cannot exercise power to take away any case before the available coram and place it before another.
Dave said he had no doubt that as Master of Roster, the CJI has not exercised power under Note 3 referred above as no information was available in this regard.
Dave urged the CJI to take corrective steps on the grounds that such a practice did not augur well for the institution.
Dave said that when DY Chandrachud was appointed as the CJI, strong hopes were created in the minds of citizens that under his leadership, the Supreme Court would rise to greater heights. However, the march has somehow paused for some time earlier. The scars caused on account of such improprieties in the past few years on justice delivery have not healed as yet, he concluded.