A roster of questions 

A roster of questions 


  • The allocation of cases in the Supreme Court, with division of work among the judges according to various subject categories, raises more questions rather than being fair and transparent.

The new roster:

  • The new roster for allocation of cases in the Supreme Court comes in the light of dissatisfaction at the manner of allocation of cases and the high-handedness of the Chief Justice of India in asserting his supremacy as master of roster to the exclusion of the senior judges of the court.
  • It was put out to be operationalised from 5th  February, 2018.
  • The roster aggregates all important cases to the Chief Justice of India — politically sensitive cases, all fresh public interest litigations, social justice matters, contempt of court matters, matters dealing with appointment of constitutional functionaries, among others.
  • Mundane cases with little political significance have been assigned to the other senior judges.

Key concerns:

  • Such concentration of power in the hands of one person violates the foundations of what Justice P.B. Sawant has called “a court of equals”.
  • The Chief Justice of India is only one among equals, with the power to judiciously exercise an important role of constituting benches.
  • This authority cannot be used in an autocratic manner defying all norms of equity and justice and in disregard for principles of neutrality, impartiality and transparency.
  • Indisciplined exercise of this authority can lead to a complete subversion of democracy.

Steps to be taken:

  • A just and fair roster must be one that is divided subject-wise among judges according to their experience and expertise in those subjects.
  • Politically sensitive matters should be before the five senior judges of the Supreme Court.
  • Among them, the allocation of individual cases must be by random computer allocation not by the individual decision of any human.
  • For other cases as well, if there is more than one judge dealing with a particular subject then cases belonging to that subject should be randomly allocated among the various judges to whom that subject has been allocated.


  • There is still scope to revisit this roster through the prism of objectivity and fairness.
  • This must be done, for greater transparency and accountability will only yield more authority to our Supreme Court as the supreme custodian of people’s rights.
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