Process of appointing Chief Justice of India

The President appoints the Chief Justice of India(CJI) and the Judges of the Supreme Court under clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India.

Author: Praharshi Jain

May 20, 2020

Process of appointing Chief Justice of India

Appointment of Chief Justice of India

The President appoints the Chief Justice of India(CJI) and the Judges of the Supreme Court under clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India.

Appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India(CJI) should be of the senior-most Judge of the Supreme Court of India considered fit to hold the office. The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs would at the appropriate time, take the recommendation from the outgoing Chief Justice of India for the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India.

•  Whenever there is any doubt about the fitness of the senior-most Judge to hold the office of the Chief Justice, consultation with other Judges as envisaged in Article 124 (2) of the Constitution of India would be made for the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India. 
•  After receiving a recommendation from the Chief Justice of India, the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs will put up the recommendation to the Prime Minister of India who will advice the President in the matter of appointment. 

Article 124 of the Constitution of India is silent on the appointment of Chief Justice of India (hereinafter referred to as CJI). The seat of Chief Justice of India(CJI) is filled on conventional practice, i.e. the senior-most Judge of the Supreme Court would become Chief Justice of India. But in the year 1973 the Government suddenly departed from this established practice when Justice A.N. Ray was appointed Chief Justice of India in preference to his senior colleagues, Justices Shelat, Hedge and Grover. Again in 1977 Government appointed Beg J. As the CJI, bypassing Khanna J. Who was then senior-most Judge. But, later on, Chandrachud J. (who was the senior-most Judge) was appointed as CJI, and the conventional practice was restored. 

 

 

Appointment Of Acting Chief Justice of India 

Appointment of acting Chief Justice is to be made by the President under Article 126 of the Constitution of India. Vacancy in the office of the Chief Justice of India must be filled whatever the period of vacancy. In such an eventuality, the senior-most available Judge of the Supreme Court of India will be appointed to perform the duties of the office of the Chief Justice of India. As soon as the President of India has approved the appointment, the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Justice will inform the Chief Justice of India (CJI) or in his absence the Judge concerned of the Supreme Court and will announce the appointment of acting Chief Justice and issue the necessary notification in the Gazette of India. 

You Maybe Needed: Hierarchy of the Courts in India

Qualifications -

•  CJI should be a citizen of India. 
•  He should have been for at least 5 years a Judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession. 
•  He should have been for at least 10 years an Advocate of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession. 
•  He should be, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist. 
•  This means that no minimum age has been prescribed for the appointment of CJI. 

Role of Chief Justice of India- 

The CJI is the head of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court of India. It is the highest post that can be achieved by a judge living in India. 
He allocates cases and appoints constitutional benches to deal with essential cases in judiciary. He also heads the administrative functions of the Supreme Court of India. 
If any vacancy is about to arise in the office of a Judge of the Apex Court, CJI will initiate proposal and forward his recommendation to the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs to fill the vacancy raised in the court. 

 

 

Administrative Functions of Chief Justice of India- 

•  He allocates matters to other judges of the Supreme Court. 
•  CJI maintains the roster. 

The Chief Justice is the “Master of Roster” and has the authority to allocate the cases to different Benches or Judges of the Supreme Court of India. It is also conceded that adherence to this principle, namely, the Chief Justice is the Master of Roster, is primarily to maintain discipline and decorum in the judiciary. It is also stated that the Chief Justice is first among equals it means that all Judges of the Supreme Court are equal with same judicial power with Chief Justice of India as the senior-most Judge of the Court. At the same time, it is also said that this power is not to be used to assert any superior authority by the Chief Justice and the power is to be exercised in a fair, just and in a transparent manner. As the Master of Roster, it is also conceded that it is the Chief Justice who has to decide as to which Bench or Judge will hear a particular case. The apprehension expressed is that keeping in view the predisposition of specific Judges, the Chief Justice of India may assign cases to those Judges to achieve a predetermined outcome. 

A roster declares what work is assigned to Judge of High Court and Judge of Supreme Court. ‘Master of the Roster’ refers to the privilege of the Chief Justice of Supreme Court to constitute Benches to hear cases. It is a pre-requisite that this power should be exercised in a manner that it is fair, just and transparent and in keeping with the high standards of integrity desired from the office of a CJI. 

•  CJI appoints court officials. 
•  He also carries out other general functions relating to the Supreme Court.
•  The President of India appoints other judges of the Supreme Court after consulting the Chief Justice of India and such other judges of the Supreme Court and high courts as he deems necessary. Consultation with the Chief Justice of India for this purpose is obligatory. 
•  He acts as the President of India if the offices of both the President and the Vice-President is vacant.

•  CJI appoints court officials. 
•  He also carries out other general functions relating to the Supreme Court.
•  The President of India appoints other judges of the Supreme Court after consulting the Chief Justice of India and such other judges of the Supreme Court and high courts as he deems necessary. Consultation with the Chief Justice of India for this purpose is obligatory. 
•  He acts as the President of India if the offices of both the President and the Vice-President is vacant.
 Impeachment Procedure- 
•  The impeachment notice of a Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of India can be moved in either House of the Parliament. However, notice should be issued by at least 50 MPs from the Rajya Sabha and 100 MPs from the Lok Sabha. 
•  The impeachment notice has to be handed over either to the Speaker of Lok Sabha if it is from the lower house Members of Parliament or to the Chairman of Rajya Sabha if it is from the upper house Members of Parliament. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is also the Vice President of the country. 
•  Once the motion is submitted to the Speaker of Chairman, the person concerned will have to constitute a 3 member committee to investigate the charges levied against the Supreme Court judge.  
•  The 3 member committee will consist of a senior Supreme Court judge, a High Court judge and a ‘distinguished jurist’ who has been appointed as a Supreme Court judge by the President of India. 
•  The 3 member committee has to support the motion for it to be sent back to the house where it was introduced.  
•  In the house, it has to be passed with a special majority of not less than two-thirds. This means in case if all members are present in the house at least 364 Members should have voted for the motion in the Lok Sabha, and 164 Members have voted for the motion in the Rajya Sabha. 
•  Once the motion is passed by the house, it was introduced in. It has to be passed on to the other house where it again needs to be passed by a special majority of the house.
•  Once it is passed by both the Houses of Parliament, then the President can be approached to remove the Chief Justice of India from Supreme Court.

 

 

Constitutional Provision- 
Article 124(2) says that: Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the high courts in the states as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-five years. Provided that in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India shall always be consulted.

 

 

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These articles are provided freely as general guides. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking expericed legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.

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