I write in my personal capacity to say I find it unusual that the learned Chief Justice of India (for whose sagacity and experience I have great respect) intervened in this matter after another bench of the Court expressly declined to do so. The Chief Justice’s intervention raises several juridictional and substantive issues, which I hope our blogging community can interrogate. I agree that it is the Chief Justice’s prerogative to assign matters among different benches. But once the matter had been assigned to the Pasayat-Panta bench, the Chief Justice ought to deferred to that bench to handle the matter unless there were compelling reasons (which should have been stated) for intervening in the matter. After all, Justice Pasayat (whose judgments I have followed with great interest for many years) is an experienced and sound judge whose integrity has not been questioned. By contradicting the Pasayat-Panta bench, the Chief Justice’s ruling could be interpreted (even if it was not intended that way) as having overruled the former’s order issued hardly a day earlier.
I understand the predicament of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General who were caught in a bind in a very important case. But the proper course of action would have been for the government to seek a review of the order denying a vacation of the stay (if a review against such an order were permissible under the Supreme Court’s rules) rather than appearing to indulge in what could be unfortunately perceived as forum shopping among different benches of our Court. I invite comments on this matter from my other colleagues and our regular readers.