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49th Chief Justice of India

Context:

In exercise of the power conferred by clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution of India, the President has appointed Shri Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Judge of the Supreme Court as the Chief Justice of India.

Relevance:

GS II- Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Appointment of the CJI
  2. Administrative Powers of CJI (Master of Roster)

Appointment of the CJI:

  • The Chief Justice of India and the Judges of the Supreme Court (SC) are appointed by the President under clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution.
  • As far as the CJI is concerned, the outgoing CJI recommends his successor.
  • The Union Law Minister forwards the recommendation to the Prime Minister who, in turn, advises the President.
  • SC in the Second Judges Case (1993), ruled that the senior most judge of the Supreme Court should alone be appointed to the office of the CJI.
  • The Supreme Court collegium is headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprises four other senior most judges of the court.
    • The collegium system is the system of appointment and transfer of judges that has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court (Judges Cases), and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.

Qualifications

The Indian Constitution says in Article 124 (3) that in order to be appointed as a judge in the Supreme Court of India, the person has to fit in the following criteria:

  • He/She is a citizen of India
  • Has been for at least five years a Judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession;
  • Has been for at least ten years an advocate of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or is, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist

Administrative Powers of CJI (Master of Roster):

  • It is common to refer to the office as primus inter pares – first amongst equals.
  • Besides his adjudicatory role, the CJI also plays the role of the administrative head of the Court.
  • In his administrative capacity, the Chief Justice exercises the prerogative of allocating cases to particular benches.
  • The Chief Justice also decides the number of judges that will hear a case.
  • Thus, he can influence the result by simply choosing judges that he thinks may favour a particular outcome.
  • Such administrative powers can be exercised without collegial consensus, and without any stated reasons.

-Source: Hindustan Times, PIB


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