Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said in an interview that we have to ensure that the allocation of cases to judges of the Supreme Court is not lawyer-driven.

The CJI was responding to a question about the recent controversy regarding the allocation of certain cases to Justice Bela Trivedi.

"I saw you in one of the hearings speaking on bench hunting or some people objecting to politically important cases, as they said, given to a particular judge. How do you respond to that? What is behind the kind of allegations which were made against the Chief Justice of India", the interviewer asked during the interview given to by CJI to PTI.

"Well, I must tell you that there are very well-defined structures and processes for the allocation of cases. First, the roster by virtue of which the cases are assigned according to subject matter is printed in advance under the authority of the Chief Justice. So, the roster is notified for everyone to see and it is in the public realm. It is published on the website of the Supreme Court", the CJI said.

Continuing, the CJI said, "Second, that is equally important, every judge of the Supreme Court is a judge of the Supreme Court. Every judge is entitled to decide any case which is assigned by the Chief Justice to them in terms of the roster. Third, and I have been a member of the bar as well, no lawyer can insist that I will have my cases decided only by a particular judge, because that does not do justice either to the credibility of individual judges or to the purity of the administration of justice".

"Fourth, there are well-defined processes. Cases are assigned by the Chief Justice. When a case comes up for assignment, for instance, if a judge recuses himself, normally cases are assigned according to the roster automatically by the computer. If a judge recuses, case is put up before the Chief Justice and the Chief Justice will then reassign that case. The reassignment may be to a senior judge, it may be to a junior judge. Once a case is assigned to that judge, that case follows that judge, unless, for instance, the judge falls sick and says I don't want to take up that case, I don't want to take up that case because I am not on duty for the next month, in which it has to be reassigned", CJI Chandrachud said.

The CJI concluded his answer to the question by saying, "But I am very very clear in my mind that if the credibility of the institution of the Supreme Court is to be maintained, we have to ensure that the allocation of cases in the Supreme Court is not going to be a lawyer-driven allocation. It has to be an allocation which we do in terms of our processes and systems which are laid down in the Supreme Court. Having said that I can only say that well, you have to trust your decision-makers".

Last month, the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Senior Advocate Dr. Adish C Aggarwala had written to Chief Justice Chandrachud objecting to an “open letter” to the CJI by Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave about the allocation of cases to judges of Court.

Responding to multiple letters and submissions from Senior Advocates expressing apprehensions regarding the alleged changing of Benches hearing cases, Chief Justice Chandrachud had remarked in Court that he finds it particularly surprising when members of the Bar seek the prioritized listing of their cases before a specific judge.

The issue arose after the bail plea of Aam Aadmi Party leader Satyendar Jain was listed before a Bench of Justice Bela M. Trivedi and Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, after Justice AS Bopanna went on a long leave.