Former SC Bar Association president Dushyant Dave writes open letter to CJI over listing of cases

Letter came a day after SC Justice Sanjay Kaul described as 'curious' the deletion of a matter relating to appointing judges without his knowledge.

ByParmod Kumar

Published Dec 06, 2023 | 9:07 PMUpdatedDec 06, 2023 | 9:07 PM

Supreme court

Former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president and senior advocate Dushyant Dave, on Wednesday, 6 December, expressed concern over certain sensitive matters being heard by certain benches being shifted out and listed before other benches in violation of the Supreme Court Rules and the Handbook on Practice and Procedure of the Court.

Expressing concern over matters being shifted from one bench and listed before the other, Dave, in an “open” letter addressed to the Chief Justice of India, Justice D Y Chandrachud, said that these matters involve questions of human rights, the functioning of constitutional institutions, democracy, freedom of speech, etc.

“It would not be out of place to mention that these matters include some sensitive cases involving human rights, Freedom of Speech, Democracy, Functioning of Statutory and Constitutional institutions,” reads Dave’s letter.

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A ‘curious’ matter

Dave’s letter comes close on the heels of the seniormost top court judge after CJI, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, describing as “curious” the deletion of the matter relating to delay by the Union government in appointing judges — recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium — from the list of matters to be taken up for hearing on Tuesday.

When advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing in the matter, told the bench on Tuesday (5 December) that the deletion of the matter was unusual, Justice Kaul had said, “Some things are best left unsaid.” However, Justice Kaul also said, “I am sure chief justice is aware of it.”

Justice Kaul had said, “I had not deleted it or expressed unwillingness to take it up. I am sure the CJI is aware of it (deletion). Some things are best left unsaid. We will see.”

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What Dave’s letter says

Dave, in his letter, states, “I have personally come across a number of cases listed before various Hon’ble Benches upon first listing and/or in which notice have been issued, being taken away from those Hon’ble Benches and listed before other Hon’ble Benches. Despite first coram being available the matters are being listed before a Hon’ble Benches in which second coram presides. Matters listed before Court No 2, 4, 6, 7 amongst others have been shifted out and listed before other Hon’ble Benches in clear disregard of the Rules, the Handbook on Practice and Office Procedure … and established Practice and Convention.”

Stating that there were high expectations when he (CJI Chandrachud) assumed office, Dave said, “On your [CJI Chandrachud] appointment, strong hopes were created in the minds of citizens that under your leadership, the Supreme Court of India will rise to greater heights, the march towards which has somehow paused for some time earlier. The scars caused on account of such improprieties in the past few years on justice delivery have not healed as yet.”

‘Doing my duty’

Stating that he held the CJI Chandrachud, his colleagues, and those associated with the administration of justice in high esteem, Dave in his letter says, “But I will be failing in my duty imposed by the Supreme Court itself when it held that “the lawyers are supposed to be fearless and independent in the protection of the rights of the litigants” and “what lawyers are supposed to protect is the legal system and procedure of law of deciding the cases.”

Regretting having to take the recourse to writing an open letter, Dave said that the “efforts by some of us to meet you personally had not yielded any result, despite of and on behalf of many of us. I personally met the Secretary-General and apprised him of the anxiety and misgivings of the Bar in this regard. Emails sent to Registrar (J-1 by Advocates on Record (AoRs) making a serious grievance about it have not been responded to, far from course correction taking place.”

Concluding his letter, running into seven pages, Dave writes, “Sir, this does not augur well for the institution of Supreme Court of India under your leadership. The institution is highly respected by all. That respect must continue for ever, in all respects. We would, therefore, urge you to look into this immediately and take corrective measures.”