The importance of roster in High Court

67. It is clear from the record that the learned Judge was not dealing with any public interest litigation cases as on the date of entertaining anonymous petition. It is beyond pale of any doubt and controversy that the administrative control of the High Court vests in the Chief Justice is the master of the roster. He alone has the prerogative to constitute Benches of the Court and allocate cases to the Benches so constituted and the puisne judges can only do that work as is allotted to them by the Chief Justice or under his directions: that the Puisne Judges cannot “pick and choose” any case pending in the High Court and assign the same to himself or themselves for disposal without appropriate orders of the Chief Justice. (See State of Rajasthan Vs. Prakash Chand and Others,

68. This Court in more than one case expressed its reservation about individual Judges entertaining the communications and petitions addressed to them to pass orders on judicial side. In Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India the Court in clear and unequivocal terms declared that communications and petitions addressed to a particular Judge are improper and violate the institutional personality of the court. They also embarrass the Judge to whom they are personally addressed.

54. …The fundamental conception of the court must be respected, that it is a single indivisible institution, of united purpose and existing solely for the high constitutional functions for which it has been created. The conception of the court as a loose aggregate of individual Judges, to one or more of whom judicial access may be particularly had, undermines its very existence and endangers its proper and effective functioning”. (Bandhua Mukti Morcha case, SCC p. 229, para 54)

(Emphasis supplied)

69. In our view, the learned Judge ought not to have entertained the anonymous petition, contends of which remain unverified and made it basis with the judicial duty of disposing of PIL matters.

70. Institution’s own reputation is a priceless treasure. History teaches us that the independence of the judiciary is jeopardised when courts become embroiled in the passions of the day and assume primary responsibility to resolve the issues which are otherwise not entrusted to them by adopting procedure which are otherwise not known.

71. There is heavy duty cast upon the constitutional courts to protect themselves from the onslaught unleashed by unscrupulous litigants masquerading as public interest litigants. The individual Judges ought not to entertain communications and letters personally addressed to them and intimate action on the judicial side based on such communication so as to avoid embarrassment; that all communication and petitions invoking the jurisdiction of the Court must be addressed to the entire Court, that is to say, the Chief Justice and his companion Judges. The individual letters, if any, addressed to a particular Judge are required to be placed before the Chief Justice for consideration as to the proposed action on such petitions. Each Judge cannot decide for himself as to what communication should be entertained for setting the law in motion be it in PIL or in any jurisdiction.

72. It is needless to say that none of these aspects have been taken into consideration by the High Court before setting the criminal law in motion as against the Appellant. The sweeping directions issued by the Court are in the nature of ordering an inquisition against the Appellant and the persons connected with it to find out as to whether they have committed any cognizable offence. Such a course is impermissible in law.


SOURCE :

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

DIVINE RETREAT CENTRE   Vs.   STATE OF KERALA AND OTHERS [Decided on : 11-03-2008]