Around a month ahead of the retirement of Current Chief Justice of India (CJI) Uday Urmesh Lalit, the Government has set in motion the process of appointing the next head of the Indian Judiciary. The Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju has today written to Justice Lalit asking him to recommend his successor.
Justice Lalit will retire as the CJI on November 8 after a brief tenure of 74 days.
Referring to the commencement of the process, the Ministry of Law and Justice tweeted, “As per the MoP on appointment of Chief Justice of India and Supreme Court Judges, today the Hon'ble Minister of Law and Justice sent a letter to the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India for sending his recommendations for appointment of his successor.” This is perhaps the first time that the ministry has tweeted about it.
As per the MoP on appointment of Chief Justice of India and Supreme Court Judges, today the Hon’ble Minister of Law and Justice sent a letter to the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India for sending his recommendations for appointment of his successor.— Ministry of Law and Justice (@MLJ_GoI) October 7, 2022
What is the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) to Appoint Chief Justice?
As per the website of the Department of Justice, Government of India appointment to the office of the CJI should be of the senior most judge of the SC who is considered fit to hold the office. The first step toward this direction is the seeking of recommendation of the running CJI by the Union Minister of Law and Justice to appoint her/his successor.
In case, there is any confusion in the appointment, the consultations with the other judges as envisaged in Article 124 (2) of the constitution is required to be made.
After the Ministry of Law receives the recommendation of CJI, it will forward it to the Prime Minister of India under whose advise the President will appoint the new Chief.
Who is in the line to take over as next CJI?
Justice D Y Chandrachud is the senior-most judge after the Justice U U Lalit. If the established norms and traditions are maintained, Justice Chandrachud will take over as the CJI on November 9, following Justice Lalit’s departure.
In contrast to his predecessor’s small term, Justice Chandrachud, known for upholding constitutional rights and freedom would have a tenure of two years and demit office on November 10, 2024.
No meeting of Collegium after the Recommendation of CJI
As per the conventions, no meeting of the SC collegium can be held after the CJI recommends the name of his successor.
Notably, this process has set in motion at a time when there is a conflict going on within the collegium regarding the appointment of four Judges including a senior advocate to the SC.
The collegium though was about to meet on September 30 to decide upon the names, it couldn’t materialise as Justice Chandrachud was busy till evening due to huge caseload, NDTV reported.
Subsequently, Justice Lalit asked for the written view of the collegium members regarding the names to be discussed in the meeting. According to sources, two of the senior judges showed their reservation to it as they were of the opinion that the matter should only be discussed in the scheduled meeting of the collegium.
If CJI recommends the name of his successor, the next collegium meeting will be held under the reins of new CJI.
The Supreme Court Judges retire at the age of 65 while the same bar for the HC judges is 62.