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President Pranab Mukherjee has cleared the decks for Justice JS Khehar to take over as the 44th Chief Justice of India. In roughly two weeks time, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur will demit office after a tenure that lasted a little more than twelve months. Justice Khehar, who will take charge of the Supreme Court of India on January 4 next year, will be the country’s first Sikh CJI.
The apex court will see as many as seven different Chief Justices in the coming six years or so. To give you a better glimpse of how the institution will function in the coming future, we feature the future Chief Justices of India, along with the collegiums headed by them.
1. Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar (CJI from 04.01.2017 to 27.08.2017)
Having obtained an LL.B. and LL.M. from Punjab University, Justice Khehar enrolled as an advocate in 1979. As a lawyer, he appeared for Tamil Nadu Member of Parliament M Krishnaswamy, who challenged the legality of Justice V Ramaswami’s impeachment proceedings.
He made the shift from the Bar to the Bench in 1999, when he was appointed judge of the Punjab & Haryana High Court. He went on to become Chief Justice of the High Courts of Uttarakhand and Karnataka, before being elevated to the apex court in 2011.
He was part of the Constitution Bench that struck down the NJAC Act as unconstitutional in August last year. He will serve as Chief Justice for eight months, from January to August next year.
Other collegium members: Dipak Misra, J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur JJ.
2. Justice Dipak Misra (CJI from 28.08.2017 to 02.10.2018)
Justice Misra entered the legal profession in 1977, and was appointed as an additional judge of the Orissa High Court in 1996. From there, he was transferred to the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
He went on to serve as Chief Justice of the Patna High Court and the Delhi High Court, before his elevation to the apex court in October 2011.
He was most recently in the news for his order directing cinema halls to compulsorily play the National Anthem before every film. Justice Misra will serve as CJI for a little over a year, from the end of August 2017 to October 2018.
Other collegium members: J Chelameswar, (replaced by AK Sikri upon retirement) , Ranjan Gogoi, Madan Lokur, Kurian Joseph JJ.
3. Justice Ranjan Gogoi (CJI from 03.10.2018 to 17.11.2019)
Justice Gogoi joined the Bar in 1978, and made the switch to the Bench in February 2001, as a judge of the Gauhati High Court. He was appointed Chief Justice of the Punjab & Haryana High Court in 2011, before being elevated as an apex court judge in April 2012.
When he assumes office in October 2018, he will become the first CJI from a North-Eastern state. His tenure as Chief will last till November 2019.
Other collegium members: Madan Lokur (till Dec 2018, replaced by Arun Mishra upon retirement), Kurian Joseph (till Nov 2018, replaced by NV Ramana J. upon retirement), AK Sikri (till March 2019, replaced by Rohinton Nariman upon retirement), SA Bobde, JJ.
4. Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde (CJI from 18.11.2019 to 23.04.2021)
The son of former Maharashtra Advocate General Arvind Bobde and brother of veteran lawyer Vinod Bobde, who passed away earlier this year, Justice SA Bobde found his way to the legal profession in 1978.
He was elevated as an additional judge of the Bombay High Court in 2000, before being appointed as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in 2012. He became a judge of the Supreme Court in April 2013.
He will serve as Chief Justice of India from November 2019 till April 2021.
Other collegium members: NV Ramana, Arun Mishra (till September 2020, replaced by UU Lalit upon retirement), RF Nariman, R Banumathi (till July 2020, replaced by AM Khanwilkar upon retirement) JJ.
5. Justice Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana (CJI from 24.04.2021 to 26.08.2022)
Hailing from an agricultural family in Andhra Pradesh, Justice Ramana enrolled at the Bar in 1983; he was appointed as a judge in the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad in the year 2000.
From there, he was appointed as Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court in 2013, before being elevated to the Supreme Court in February 2014. He will succeed Justice Bobde as Chief Justice of India, a post he will serve for around sixteen months before his retirement in August 2022.
Collegium members: RF Nariman (till August 2021, replaced by L Nageswara Rao upon retirement) UU Lalit, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud JJ.
6. Justice Uday Umesh Lalit (CJI from 27.08.2022 to 08.11.2022)
Justice Lalit enrolled at the Bar in 1983 and went on to have a lucrative career as a lawyer in Bombay and Delhi. He was designated as Senior Advocate by the Supreme Court in 2004.
He was the Special Public Prosecutor for the CBI in the 2G scam cases, before answering the call to the Bench in August 2014, when he was directly elevated to the apex court.
He will have one of the shortest tenures (73 days) as Chief Justice of India before retiring in November 2022.
Collegium members: Chandrachud J.
7. Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud (CJI from 09.11.2022 to 11.11.2024)
The youngest current sitting judge, Justice Chandrachud will create history on November 9, 2022 when he assumes office as Chief Justice of India. On that day, he and his father Justice YV Chandrachud will have been the only father-son CJI duo.
After obtaining an LL.M. and an SJD from Harvard University, Justice Chandrachud began practice at the Bombay High Court, and was designated a Senior Advocate in 1998.
He was appointed as a judge in the Bombay High Court in 2000, before taking charge as Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court in 2013. In May this year, he was elevated to the apex court.
Compared to the others in this list, he will have a fairly long tenure as CJI; he will serve for two years before retiring in November 2024.
Other collegium members: NA
Lead image courtesy: Supreme Court of India website.