New Delhi: In an intriguing comment, Justice J Chelameswar on Monday said the law that nobody will be a judge in his own cause has perhaps undergone changes "in last few months".
The judge’s remarks came when he was told by senior advocate Kapil Sibal that Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra cannot assume the role of the ‘master of roster’ when the petition seeks initiation of the impeachment proceedings against the CJI himself.
“When the petition is against the master of the roster himself, he cannot exercise the power to decide how this case will be heard and by which bench. Law in this country has been that nobody can be a judge in his own cause,” said Sibal.
But Justice Chelameswar retorted: “I think the law you are talking about has undergone modification in the last few months.”
The judge further observed that he was "not clear on the legal principle" whether a matter involving or naming the CJI can be posted for hearing by any other judge after a Constitution Bench, headed by CJI Dipak Misra, declared the CJI to be the master of roster.
Sibal, along with advocate Prashant Bhushan, was before Justice Chelameswar to get the hearing of a petition, which seeks initiation of the impeachment proceedings against CJI Dipak Misra.
Sibal told Justice Chelameswar that the case was being mentioned before the most senior judges since the petition is against the CJI and thus the CJI cannot decide it either judicially or administratively. "We cannot mention it before the CJI for listing," Sibal argued.
Justice Chelameswar replied: "Whether it can be mentioned here or anywhere else is something that cannot be decided at this stage. There is a judgment by a larger bench that says the CJI is the master of the roster. Speaking for myself, at least I am not clear on the legal principle.”
Responding, Sibal asserted that the law in this country has always been that a person cannot be a judge in his own cause and therefore, CJI cannot issue any order in relation to this petition. To this, Justice Chelameswar said that this principle has perhaps seen modification in the last few months.
“Rules are not conclusive anymore…we are not sure,” responded Justice Chelameswar.
At this juncture, Justice Sanjay KKaul, who shared the bench with Justice Chelameswar, told Sibal and Bhushan that the matter of listing this petition was “not so simple”.
“We will discuss this…you come back to us tomorrow,” the judges told Sibal.