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No Right Exists To Move Representation To Chief Justice Of HC For Transfer Of Cases On Administrative Side: Punjab & Haryana High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
6 Feb 2021 2:16 PM GMT
No Right Exists To Move Representation To Chief Justice Of HC For Transfer Of Cases On Administrative Side: Punjab & Haryana High Court
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The Punjab & Haryana High Court last month observed that no statutory provision exists which gives anyone the right to move a representation to the Chief Justice of High Court for transfer of cases on the administrative side. The Bench of Justice Jaswant Singh & Justice Sant Prakash observed thus, while noting that a Chief Justice is Master of Roster and he alone has...

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The Punjab & Haryana High Court last month observed that no statutory provision exists which gives anyone the right to move a representation to the Chief Justice of High Court for transfer of cases on the administrative side.

The Bench of Justice Jaswant Singh & Justice Sant Prakash observed thus, while noting that a Chief Justice is Master of Roster and he alone has prerogative to constitute Benches and allocate cases.

While observing that "it would set a wrong precedent", the Court also remarked,

"To ask the Chief Justice to decide a representation would not only amount to interfering in his prerogative to take a decision on his power to assign roster/ cases to a particular Judge, but would also amount to asking him to decide a representation which is not even maintainable at the first instance."

The matter before the Court

One Richa Singh filed a plea (intra-Court appeal) being aggrieved against the impugned order dated 11th November 2020 passed by Single Judge, whereby her writ petition seeking direction for decision of her representation pending before the Chief Justice of the High Court on the administrative side, has been dismissed.

In her representation, the appellant raised an apprehension that there is some bias in the mind of the Single Judge who is hearing criminal matters pertaining to her matrimonial disputes, and therefore, she sought transfer of all cases from the said judge to any other judge of High Court.

Court's observations

The Court agreed with the findings of the Single Judge which held that the writ petition is not maintainable, as writ of mandamus can be issued only if enforcement of a Statutory/Constitutional right has been sought.

Importantly, the Court also remarked,

"Once a document is placed on record before a Court for its perusal, it is the prerogative of the Court to judge its merits and demerits."

Further, while taking into account the Apex Court's ruling in the case of Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms vs. Union of India (2018) 1 SCC 196, wherein it was held that a Chief Justice is Master of Roster and he alone has prerogative to constitute Benches and allocate cases, the Court said,

"Said prerogative could not have been exercised by any other Bench, be it administrative or judicial side."

In view of the above, finding no merit, the writ petition was thereby ordered to be dismissed.

Know the Law

It may be noted that in CJAR matter (supra), the powers of CJI as the master of the roster was affirmed.

In this matter, the Constitution Bench had applied the decision in State of Rajasthan v. Prakash Chand (1998) 1 SCC 1, which was rendered in the context of powers of Chief Justice of High Court. CJAR said that the same principle was applicable to the Supreme Court.

Further, in the Year 2018, the Supreme Court refused to declare that the function of allocating cases and assigning benches should be exercised by the collegium of five senior judges instead of the Chief Justice of India.

The petition was filed by Shanti Bhushan, Senior Advocate and former law minister, seeking such relief were not acted upon by the bench of Justice A.K Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan.

Bhushan had argued that the role of CJI as the 'master of roster' was not based on any constitutional provision.

To this, Justice Sikri expressly acknowledged that the Constitution is silent on the role of Chief Justice as the Master of the Roster. However, it was added that this role was "based upon healthy practice and sound conventions which have been developed over a period of time and that stands engrafted in the Supreme Court Rules."

Case title - Richa Singh v. Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh through its Registrar General, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh [LPA No. 901 of 2020 (O&M) in CWP No. 19148 of 2020]

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