What is a Roster?
The roster is the list that shows how different categories of cases are assigned to judges. It is a process to allocate the cases to the judiciary to achieve efficiency of the higher judiciary. Constitution of a Bench is an administrative function to be performed by the Chief Justice of the High Court and it is his prerogative to distribute the business of the High Court, both judicial and administrative, as he is the master of roster and, with such prerogative, he alone can constitute benches of the Court and allocate the cases to the benches so constituted.
This allocation of cases is done to different benches of judges in order to avoid conflicting views by two benches in a similar case. In the present situation, the Supreme Court of India has come up with a new roster for the allocation of cases to fresh cases. The new roster was notified by the Supreme Court registry and will come into effect after the top court reopens post-summer vacation break on July 3.
The official definition of Roster
According to the law dictionary, a Roster is a list of persons who are to perform certain legal duties when called upon In their turn. While the official definition of roster is not provided under any statute at the same point it is developed through judicial pronouncements.
According to the Supreme Court in the Handbook On Practice and Procedure and Office Procedure (Chapter VI – Roster): Powers, Duties and Functions of the Registrar, Rule 29, expressly states that the Registrar shall prepare a roster under the directions of the Chief Justice of India, and all such powers, duties and functions of the registrar are subject to any further special or general orders of the Chief Justice of India.
4(20) of The High Court of Madhya Pradesh Rules, 2008 define Roster as “Roster” means a notification issued by or under the orders of the Chief Justice, assigning particular class(es) of cases to Judges of the High Court for a specified or unspecified period.
Appearance in official databases
This is the judge's roster on the Supreme Court Website. The roster system is based on the individual subject category of each judge.
The Delhi HC has a roster system and in this particular system, a single judge is given to handle all the matrimonial cases or civil or criminal petitions.
The case allocation system in the Roster system is different from Supreme courts than High courts. While the cases are allocated in the Supreme Court by the chief justice of India in other HCs the allocation is done based on a computer system. For instance, in the Allahabad HC The entire case allocation is done based be spun by a computer-generated program and equally distributed among respective Benches of the same roster of fresh cases.
Regional Variations in the Roster System
High Courts like the Kerala High Court publish a consolidated daily roster list. In other High Courts, the Roster document is supplemented by partial modification,
Also known as-
In High Courts like Karnataka and Bombay, the Roster system is known as sitting lists while in Calcutta, the system is known as Assignment / Determination / Roster / Sitting.
In Odisha HC the roster system is known as Bench Composition/Special bench List under cause list.
While in Gujarat HC there is a Roster system which comes under misc. notification.
Research that engages with Roster
The Delhi High Court Roster Review: A Step Towards Judicial Performance Evaluations by Vaidehi Misra and Satishwar Kedas of Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. The aim of this study is to determine the productivity of the Delhi High Court, as an institution and of the individual judges vis-a-vis each other. The study was conducted for the year 2018 i.e. from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018.