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CJI Dipak Misra is set to retire in October this year, and as per convention, will recommend his successor’s name to the government for appointment.
Justice Ranjan Gogoi, the second seniormost judge of the Court is in line to be the next Chief Justice of India.
Justice Gogoi was one of the four senior judges of the Supreme Court who had held an unprecedented press conference in January this year. The judges had expressed multiple reservations with regard to the way in which the Supreme Court was functioning.
In this background, doubts have arisen as to whether CJI Misra and the government will sign off on Justice Gogoi being the next CJI.
Speaking at an event held to highlight the achievements of the Modi government today, Law Minister Prasad reportedly said,
“Let me first say that this question about appointment (of Justice Gogoi as CJI) is hypothetical. There is a convention in place. The sitting CJI has to forward the name of his successor. Let that name come first…There is no reason to doubt our intentions.”
Current CJI Dipak Misra has ample time to recommend his successor, and given Prasad’s revelation, the government will not attempt to put a spanner in the works.
Only twice before in India’s history has the senior most judge of the Apex Court been superseded. In 1973, the Indira Gandhi government appointed Justice AN Ray as Chief Justice, overlooking three other judges who were senior to Ray. This was in response to the judgment of the three judges in the landmark judgment in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala.
In 1977, Justice HR Khanna who penned the legendary dissent against the Union government in ADM Jabalpur v. Shiv Kant Shukla was superseded and Justice MH Beg was appointed CJI.