Panel for pay hike of lower court judges likely to be setup

Supreme Court

All National Register of Citizens (NRC)-related matters will now be heard by the same Bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohington F Nariman.The Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha today transferred the cases to the Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohington F Nariman, which will take up further hearing of the cases of Original Inhabitant (OI), Panchayat Certificate and NRC on November 22.

The bench, however, on an oral request of Suri and Bhatia impleaded SCBA as party and tagged the matter with earlier petitions, which has been listed for hearing before a constitution bench of first five senior-most judges of the apex court on November 13.

However, in dramatic developments, the Thursday order of Justice Chalameswar's bench was nullified by a new five-judge bench formed on Friday by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Given the seriousness of the matter, the judge chose to take up the petition in the afternoon.

Quddusi, who had also served as a judge in Chhattisgarh High Court, was arrested along with Lucknow-based Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences' chairman B P Yadav, his son Palash Yadav and three others, for allegedly trying to settle a matter relating to a medical college barred from admitting new students. Subsequently, this bench referred the matter to a larger five-judge Constitution bench.

As Bhushan lost his cool in the initial stages of the hearing and levelled allegations against the CJI, Justice Arun Mishra told him that his "conduct was not proper".

Bhushan dared the bench to issue a contempt notice to him and said the hearing can not be conducted in this manner without allowing him to speak.

Justice Chelameshwar's order on Thursday acknowledged this note, but the copy of the order that was later put up on the Supreme Court website did not include the text of the note itself, which was only revealed later. The two were accused of assuring the college representative of getting favourable orders from the top court.

The activist advocate was also rebuked by Justice Arun Mishra, who observed that FIR can not be lodged against sitting judicial officer of lower courts, judges of the higher judiciary, the Vice President of India or the President of India because they have immunity.

What happened in the Supreme Court on Friday morning?

"Needless to emphasis that no judge can take up a matter on its own unless allocated by the CJI as the CJI is master of the court", the bench said and annulled the decision of the two-judge bench, in the hearing which witnessed heated exchange of words between the judges and advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioners.

A proposal to set up a panel to look into the salary hike of judges of lower courts is likely to come up before the Union Cabinet on Friday, a senior functionary said.

He said another similar plea was slated to come up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri today but Bhushan mentioned an identical plea yesterday and an order was passed for setting up of a five-judge bench to hear the case.

Bhushan told CJI Misra, "FIR is lodged directly against you".

"These matters can not be heard on the judicial side", Misra said, dismissing a petition on which the order was passed.

"There cannot be a command or an order directing the CJI to constitute a bench of specific strength", the bench said while making it clear that neither a two-judge, nor a three- judge bench can direct the CJI to constitute a specific bench.

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