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SC crises: From LGBTQ to coal scam - Top 15 cases given to junior judges

The Delhi bar association said that by questioning the assignment of cases, the dissenting Supreme Court (SC) judges have doubted the competency of junior SC judges

BS Web Team 

court, law
Illustration by Ajay Mohanty

Last week, for the first time ever in India, four senior-most judges of the called a press conference and aired their grievances against the (CJI). Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph mounted a virtual revolt against CJI Dipak Misra, raising questions on "selective" allocation of cases. There have been instances where cases having far-reaching consequences for the nation have been assigned by the chief justice of the apex court selectively to the benches ‘of their preference’ without any rationale basis for such assignment. This must be guarded against at all costs,” they said.
Protecting legacy?
The four judges who spoke up did so, according to them, to protect their legacies.
However, high-profile cases being assigned to junior judges by the CJI- is not new to the Indian judiciary.

According to the Times of India, important cases like Bofors, Rajiv Gandhi assassination, L K Advani's trial in Babri masjid demolition, etc have one thing in common — they were assigned by the then CJIs, not to any of the four senior-most judges of the SC but to 'select benches' headed by junior judges.
The four aggrieved judges do not make clear that their complaint is just against the incumbent CJI or if it includes previous CJIs as well.
Are junior judges not competent enough?
The Delhi bar association said on Sunday that by questioning the assignment of cases, the dissenting (SC) judges have doubted the competency of junior
"The statement of the four Judges has given the impression that the junior judges are not competent enough.
We feel that all judges have equal integrity and are equally competent," the co-ordination committee of All District Court Bar Associations of Delhi has said in a statement.
Here are top 15 sensitive cases that were assigned by the then CJIs to select benches headed by junior judges.

* Please note: SC has 14 benches, headed by one of the 14 senior-most judges. The CJI sits in court number 1.
1. Vijay Mallya case, 2016: Justice K Joseph
A consortium of 17 banks led by SBI moved the Supreme Court, complaining founder of Kingfisher Airlines Vijay Mallya has failed to disclose his assets despite court orders. The CJI assigned the case to court number 8 headed by Justice K Joseph.
2. BCCI case, 2014: Ananga Kumar Patnaik
The case was heard by Justice Ananga Kumar Patnaik in court number 6.
3. Appeal by Kishore Samrite in Rahul Gandhi case, 2012
The then CJI assigned this to a bench of Justices V S Sirpurkar and T S Thakur in court number 8 and then changed the bench to Justices B S Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar.
4. The validity of section 66A of IT Act, 2012:
CJI assigned this case to Justice H L Gokhale. Later, it was transferred to bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar
5. Coal scam case, 2012: Justice R M Lodha
CJI assigned the case to Justice R M Lodha in court number 7.
6. Aadhaar validity case, 2012: B S Chauhan
7. CBI appeal against Allahabad HC dropping conspiracy charge against L K Advani in Babri case, 2011
In 2011, the CBI filed an appeal, after much dithering, questioning the Allahabad HC decision to drop the conspiracy charge against L K Advani and a host of BJP stalwarts in the Babri Masjid demolition case. On March 4, 2011, the case was heard in court 8 by a bench of Justices V S Sirpurkar and T S Thakur. The bench changed to Justices H L Dattu and Chandramauli Prasad in court 11, then to court number 9 of Justices M Y Eqbal and Arun Mishra in 2016. It passed on to court number 6 of Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman which gave judgment on April 19 last year reviving the conspiracy charge.
8. LGBTQ case, 2010: Justice G S Singhvi
The Delhi HC decriminalised consensual sexual relationship in private between adults of LGBTQ community. The appeal by one Suresh Kumar Kaushal in the SC was assigned by to court number 11 where a bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi heard it for the first time.
9. Spectrum Scam case, 2010: Justice G S Singhvi
10. Ram Jethmalani's black money case, 2009: Justice B Sudershan Reddy
The case was handled by court number 9 and by a bench of then 'junior judges' Justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar. A year later in 2010, Prashant Bhushan brought the case relating to alleged irregular allotment of 2G spectrum and the then CJI assigned it to court number 11 of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly.
11. Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, 2007: Justice Tarun Chatterjee
Rubabuddin Sheikh, brother of Sohrabuddin who was killed in a fake encounter case, filed a writ petition in 2007. The case was assigned to a bench sitting in court number 11 headed by Justice Tarun Chatterjee, one of the junior most at that time.
12. Disqualification of MPs/MLAs upon conviction and sentence for two or more years, 2005: Justice A K Patnaik
Advocate Lily Thomas filed a writ petition in 2005 seeking disqualification of MPs and MLAs upon their conviction and sentence for two or more years. Elected representatives were used to holding on to their memberships in Parliament and assemblies by filing an appeal. This petition was assigned by the then CJI to court number 9, which was headed by Justice A K Patnaik, then a junior judge.
13. Best Bakery case, 2004: Justice A Pasayat
CJI assigned this high profile case to Justice A Pasayat in court number 11.
14. Bofors case, 1999: Hinduja brothers seek bail
When the Hinduja brother came to the SC seeking bail, the then CJI assigned it to court number 8, headed by junior judge M B Shah. They got bail by putting Rs 15 crore bonds.
15. Rajiv Gandhi Assasination case, 1998: Nalini challenges conviction
Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case, 1998: Nalini challenges conviction; court no. 8 headed by Justice K T Thomas.
The then CJI assigned it to three junior judges — K T Thomas, D P Wadhwa and S S M Qadri who sat in court number 8.

First Published: Mon, January 15 2018. 13:07 IST
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