The Supreme Court collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, met Wednesday and decided to not make any recommendation for the appointment of judges until the next CJI, Justice U U Lalit, takes over later this month.
Hours after the meeting, the Secretariat of the CJI said that it has received a communication at 9.30 pm, dated August 3, from the Union Law Minister requesting the CJI to “recommend the name of his successor”.
“I have written to the Chief Justice and hope for a response soon,” Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told The Indian Express Thursday.
At the collegium meeting, it is learnt that some members expressed their opinion that it would be more prudent to wait until the next CJI takes over for the appointments to be recommended for high courts and the Supreme Court. CJI Ramana is set to retire on August 26.
According to established convention, the collegium does not make any fresh recommendation for such appointments once the incumbent CJI recommends his successor and the most senior judge is named the CJI-designate.
As per the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), which is the document governing the process of appointment of judges and appointment of the next CJI, the Law Minister asks the outgoing Chief Justice of India to recommend the next CJI.
The MoP states that the Chief Justice of India should be “the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office”.
The MoP states that the CJI’s views must be sought “at the appropriate time” but does not specify a timeline for the process — conventionally, the process takes place a month before the retirement of the incumbent CJI.
When Justice Ramana took over as CJI on April 24, 2021, the Law Minister had written to then CJI S A Bobde on March 20, 2021. Justice Bobde is learnt to have written back recommending Justice Ramana on March 24, 2021.
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If appointed, Justice U U Lalit, who is the most senior judge of the Supreme Court, will have a tenure of three months before retiring on November 8, 2022.