The bench which heard the politically- sensitive case on the Karnataka crisis was headed by a judge, who is number six in seniority in the apex court. Justice A K Sikri headed the three-member bench, which also comprised justices S A Bobde and Ashok Bhushan. In the bench, which held the historic pre-dawn hearing, Justice Bobde, who will become the Chief Justice of India after Justice Ranjan Gogoi, was most vocal in grilling the lawyers appearing for both the sides on the question of law.
Justice Gogoi would succeed CJI Dipak Misra after he retires on October 2. No sooner the news started spreading that Justice Sikri will be heading the bench, it became clear that none of the four senior-most judges of the apex court — J Chelameswar, Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, who had held the controversial January 12 presser against the CJI — were going to hear the matter. The three judges — Sikri, Bobde and Bhushan — are considered to be non-controversial.
While Justice Sikri, before being elevated in 2013 as the judge of the top court, was the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court where, he had gone after sitting in the Delhi High Court for 12 long years. Justice Bobde, who hails from Nagpur, was elevated in 2000 to the bench of Bombay High Court from where he went to the Madhya Pradesh High Court as its Chief Justice.
He was elevated to the top court in 2013. Justice Bhushan was sworn in as apex court judge in 2016 after serving as a judge, Acting Chief Justice and Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court from 2014. Prior to that he was a judge of the Allahabad High Court since 2001.