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Who is the Chief justice of India, its elections and powers?

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

Do you know that Chief justice of India acts as the President of India if both the President and Vice President are not available to exercise their power.

But who is chief justice of India and why do we need someone like a chief justice and what powers it holds?

Image source - Internet

What is the position of Chief justice?

It is the highest-ranking office in the Indian federal judiciary. He or she is the chief judge and looks after the allocation of cases and appointment of constitutional benches (Constitutional bench is a bench of supreme court comprised of 5 or more judges) which deal with important matter of law.

According to Article 145 of the Constitution of India and the Supreme Court Rules of Procedure of 1966, the chief justice allocates all work to the other judges who are bound to refer the matter back to them (for re-allocation) in any case where they require it to be looked into by a larger bench of more judges.

Chief justice maintains the roster, appointment of court officials and general and miscellaneous matters relating to the supervision and functioning of the Supreme Court.

How Chief justice of India is appointed?

The chief justice of India at that time recommends his or her successor to the government which later President appoints the next Chief justice after the end of term of present chief justice.

Ministry of law and justice ask for recommendation from the incumbent (current) Chief Justice which may also be discussed with other judges of the supreme court and the name is submitted to the Prime Minister who then ask President to appoint the next Chief Justice.

Article 124(2) and 217 of the constitution of India governs the appointment of judges including the supreme court and the high courts of states.

Qualifications required:

Should be an Indian Citizen and must fulfil any one condition from below 3 conditions:

  • Must have been a judge for 5 years of High court or 2 or more such courts in succession.

  • Must have been an advocate for 10 years at High court or 2 or more such courts in succession.

  • Must be a distinguished jurist in the opinion of President.

Powers and removal of Chief justice

The Chief justice supervises the functioning of the supreme court and can advise government on matters it deems fit or the President may ask from time to time.

Chief justice can be removed only when the President authorizes so, but this doesn't happen usually and has not happened in Indian history yet. The tenure of office remains till 65 years of age and there is no fixed term of office prescribed in the constitution.

To remove the CJI, article 124 (4) has laid down the procedure, giving powers to the Parliament

A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity -  Article 124(4)

In simple words, the Parliament can remove the CJI after passing resolution supported by 2/3rd of the total member present in house at that time, of that house that is 2/3 (66%) from Lok Sabha and 2/3 (66%) from Rajya Sabha both and then approved by the President of India.

To appoint judges of High court

In India for appointment of judges a collegium system is considered which is basically a process where consultation from Chief Justice of that high court whose judge is to be appointed, governor of state and CJI is consulted who then recommends it further.

To appoint CJ of High court the incumbent CJ of that High court recommends the name.

There have been a lot of debate on appointment of judges with government in past considering NJAC - National judicial appointment commission which was rolled back after criticism and not accepted by the supreme court.

Follow the link to check the list of all the chief justices of India, India has ever had - Link

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