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New Chief Justice of India- How is CJI appointed?

New Chief Justice of India- How is CJI appointed?

Tag:GS-2||Polity||Judiciary||Supreme Court

Why in News

  • On October 29, President of India Shri Ramnath Kovind formally announced that Sharad Arvind Bobde will be India’s next CJI.
  • Justice Bobde will take oath on November 18 after the incumbent CJI Ranjan Gogoi retires from office.
  • Justice Bobde’s tenure as CJI will last for 17 months and his term is set to end on April 23, 2021.
  • Justice Bobde will be India’s 47th CJI.

 The Presidential warrant

  • “In the exercise of the powers conferred by  of the Constitution of India, the President is pleased to appoint Shri Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Judge of the Supreme Court, to be the Chief Justice of India with effect from 18th November 2019,”
  • The notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice States.

What are the extra responsibilities of CJI?

  • As head of the Supreme Court, the chief justice is responsible for the allocation of cases and appointment of constitutional benches which deal with important matters of law.

How is CJI appointed?

  • The Constitution of India does not have any provision for criteria and procedures for appointing the CJI.
  • Article 124(1) of the Indian Constitution says there “shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India”.
  • In the absence of a constitutional provision, the procedure relies on custom and convention.
  • When the incumbent CJI retires (all Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 65), the senior-most judge in the SC becomes the CJI.
  • Seniority, here, is not defined by age, but by the number of years an individual has been serving as a judge of the apex court.
  • In an instance where two judges have served for the exact same time, because they were appointed as SC judges on the same day, other factors are used to determine the seniority of the judges, like which judge has more years of experience in the high court and if either of them were nominated from the bar directly.

Procedure for Appointment

  • The procedure to appoint the next CJI is laid out in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) between the government and the judiciary.
  • The procedure is initiated by the Law Minister seeking the recommendation of the outgoing CJI at the ‘appropriate time’, which is near to the date of retirement of the incumbent CJI.
  • The CJI sends his recommendation to the Law Ministry; and in the case of any qualms, the CJI can consult the Collegium regarding the fitness of an SC judge to be elevated to the post.
  • After receiving a recommendation from the CJI, the law minister forwards it to the Prime Minister who then advises the President on the same.
  • The President administers the oath of office to the new CJI.
  • The government has no say in the appointment of the CJI.

The two Exceptions

  • Both exceptions took place when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister.
  • Justice AN Ray
    • He was appointed as CJI in 1973 despite being fourth in terms of seniority after Justices JM Shelat, KL Hegde and AN Grover.
    • The reason was the involvement of these three judges in the landmark Kesavananda Bharati case, which had held that Parliament cannot make amendments to the Constitution that would alter its “basic structure”.
  • Justice MH Beg
    • He was appointed as the CJI in 1977 despite Justice HR Khanna being senior.
    • This was because of Justice Khanna’s minority judgment in the ADM Jabalpur case.
    • Justice Khanna had pronounced that he did not agree with the government’s argument that detention of persons during the Emergency cannot be questioned, even if mala fide and without the authority of law.

Brief Bio

  • Justice Bobde was born in 1956 in Nagpur and hails from a family of lawyers.
  • His father, Arvind Shriniwas Bobde, was a two-time advocate general of the Maharashtra government.
  • He started practicing in 1978.
  • In 1998, he was designated as a senior advocate of BHC.
  • In 2000, he was appointed as an additional judge of the Bombay High Court.
  • He was involved in several high-stakes cases including the Adarsh housing society scam and the PIL against Lavasa Corporation Limited.
  • In 2012, he was sworn in as Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court.
  • In 2013, he was elevated to the Supreme Court of India.

Major cases in Supreme Court

  • In the Supreme Court, Justice Bobde has heard several key cases
    • Right to privacy as a fundamental right of an individual in 2017.
    • Ayodhya-Janma Bhoomi case on which that apex court under the leadership of Justice Gogoi is expected to deliver the final verdict before November 17.
    • National Registry of Citizenship case.
    • In 2016, a three-judge bench, which suspended the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region, citing extreme pollution.
    • Justice Bobde was also chosen (alongside Justices Indira Banerjee and Indu Malhotra) by the full court to look into allegations of sexual harassment against current CJI Gogoi.


  • Justice Bobde is among the seven judges of the Supreme Court who have disclosed their assets on the apex court’s website.