The Chief Justice of India
is the highest-ranking judge in the Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal as established by Part V, Chapter IV of the Constitution of India...
, and thus holds the highest judicial position in India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...
. As well as presiding in the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice also head its administrative functions.
the current Chief Justice is S. H. Kapadia
Sarosh Homi Kapadia is the thirty-eighth and current Chief Justice of India.-Early life:...
, who has held the office since 12th May 2010.
As the chief judge, the Chief Justice is responsible for the allocation of cases and appointment of constitutional benches which deal with important matters of law. In accordance with Article 145 of the Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishes the structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions, and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens...
and the Supreme Court Rules of Procedure of 1966, the Chief Justice allocates work to the other judges, who are bound to refer the matter back to him or her in case they require the matter to be looked into by a bench of higher strength.
On the administrative side, the Chief Justice carries out the following functions:
- maintenance of the roster;
- appointment of court officials;
- general and miscellaneous matters relating to the supervision and functioning of the Supreme Court.
Appointment of the Chief Justice of India
Article 124 of the Constitution of India provides for the manner of appointing judges to the Supreme Court. However, no specific provision is made as to the appointment of the Chief Justice; as a result, the latter is appointed in the same manner as for the other judges to the Supreme Court.
Generally speaking, the most senior (i.e. earliest appointed) judge in the Supreme Court is proposed by the Government of India
The Government of India, officially known as the Union Government, and also known as the Central Government, was established by the Constitution of India, and is the governing authority of the union of 28 states and seven union territories, collectively called the Republic of India...
to the President
The President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India, as well as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. President of India is also the formal head of all the three branches of Indian Democracy - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary...
. The President then approves the appointment after consulting with such other judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts as he or she thinks necessary. However, this convention has been breached on a number of occasions, most notably during the premiership
The Prime Minister of India , as addressed to in the Constitution of India — Prime Minister for the Union, is the chief of government, head of the Council of Ministers and the leader of the majority party in parliament...
of Indira Gandhi
Indira Priyadarshini Gandhara was an Indian politician who served as the third Prime Minister of India for three consecutive terms and a fourth term . She was assassinated by Sikh extremists...
, when A.N. Ray was appointed as the Chief Justice despite three judges being more senior than him. It was alleged that Ray was appointed because he was considered to be a supporter of Gandhi's government, during a time when her government was becoming increasingly mired in a political and constitutional crisis.
In the aftermanth of the Emergency, the Supreme Court in a series of landmark decisions asserted its position and independence. In one such case the Court declared (in the constitutional bench S.P. Gupta - II case) that the Government of India would be bound to nominate only the most senior judge of the Supreme Court for the position of Chief Justice, thereby removing a potential source for Government influence over the judiciary. Since then, the convention has been followed without exception.
Once appointed, the Chief Justice remains in office until his or her retirement or death, unless removed by impeachment.
Oath of affirmation
Other notable judges
Since the appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India has been by convention on basis of seniority, the procedure has been criticized by various jurists and constitutional experts as being averse to talent and non-recognition leading abilities. On this count, various judges of the Supreme Court are named who showed inspiring leadership ability, but because of the seniority rule could not become the Chief Justice of India. Some of these names have been:
- Justice K. K. Mathew
K. K. Mathew was a Judge of the Supreme Court of India highly regarded for his scholarship and for his seminal contribution to the Constitutional and Administrative law in India. He later served the nation as its Tenth Law Commission Chairman and also as the Chairman of the Second Press...
for his impeccable legal scholarship and various decisive judgements
- Justice H.R. Khanna
Justice Hans Raj Khanna was a judge of the Supreme Court of India . In the Habeas Corpus case during the Indian Emergency, four other judges went with the government view that even right to life stood abrogated during Emergency...
who delivered the landmark dissent in Habeas Corpus case.
- Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer
Vaidyanathapura Rama Krishna Iyer , popularly known as Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer, is a former judge in the Supreme Court of India. He was born in a village in Malabar region of Kerala...
known for his human right approach and literary merit in decision-making.
- Justice R.S. Sarkaria
Ranjit Singh Sarkaria was an Indian Supreme Court justice from September 17, 1973 until January 15, 1981....
known for his immaculate understanding of Administrative law et cetera.
- Justice O.P. Chinnappa Reddy for his landmark decisions on constitutional law
Constitutional law is the body of law which defines the relationship of different entities within a state, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary....