No fresh recommendations for appointment of judges till next CJI takes over, decides SC Collegium

Justice UU Lalit, the next in line to become the Chief Justice of India, is likely to assume charge by the end of this month. CJI NV Ramana will demit office on August 26.

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Supreme Court (File Image)

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana-led Supreme Court Collegium has decided not to make any fresh recommendations for the appointment of judges till the time the next CJI, Justice UU Lalit, takes over on August 27. CJI Ramana will demit office on August 26. The decision was arrived at during a meeting of the Collegium chaired by the CJI on Wednesday, reported The Indian Express. The report added that the decision was taken after some members who were part of the meeting suggested that it would be wise to wait for the next CJI to assume charge before making recommendations for the appointment of judges to high courts and the Supreme Court.

According to the CJI’s Secretariat, a communication from the Union Law ministry dated August 3 requesting the CJI to recommend his successor has already been received. Justice Lalit, if appointed the next CJI, will serve at the post for a little three months till his superannuation on November 8, 2022. As per the Memorandum of Procedure governing the appointment of judges as well as the Chief Justice of India, the Law minister asks the incumbent CJI to recommend the name of his successor.

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The Collegium’s decision to wait for the next CJI to take over before making any recommendations for appointments to the Supreme Court and high courts is in line with the established convention wherein such recommendations are withheld until the incumbent CJI names his successor and the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court in CJI-designate.

What does the Memorandum of Procedure state?

As per the MoP which governs the process for the appointment of judges and the CJI, the Chief Justice of India should be “the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office”.

The MoP further states that the views of the incumbent CJI must be sought “at the appropriate time”. It, however, does not lay down a specific timeline for the process. As per convention, the process usually begins a month before the date of retirement of the incumbent CJI.

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For example, at the time of CJI Ramana’s appointment on April 24, 2021, the Law minister had written to then CJI SA Bobde on March 20 and Justice Bobde was learnt to have responded with his recommendation on March 24, 2021.

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