The five-judge Supreme Court collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, met Tuesday and discussed kickstarting the process of appointment of the next Chief Justice as the CJI is set to retire on August 26.
Besides the CJI, the collegium includes Justices U U Lalit, D Y Chandrachud, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abdul Nazeer.
It is learnt that the collegium did discuss some names for appointments to the SC but there is also a view among some judges that it would be more prudent to wait until the next CJI takes over.
It is learnt that the collegium is likely to meet again Wednesday.
As per the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), the document governing the process of appointment of judges and appointment of the CJI, the Law Minister asks the outgoing Chief Justice of India to recommend the next CJI.
The MoP states that the CJI should be “the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office.” Although the MoP says that the CJI’s views must be sought “at the appropriate time” and does not specify a timeline for the process, it normally takes place a month before the retirement of the incumbent CJI.
Incidentally, on Tuesday, the Supreme Court Public Relations Officer said that “no note/letter regarding recommendation of (the) successor (has been) received in the office of the Hon’ble Chief Justice.”
Justice Lalit, who is the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court is next in line to be appointed the CJI. He is expected to have a tenure of three months, retiring on November 8, 2022.
Justice Lalit will be the second CJI after Justice SM Sikri who was appointed directly from the Bar as a judge of the Supreme Court. Justice Sikri was CJI from January 1971 to April 1973.
Born in 1957, Justice Lalit enrolled as an advocate in 1983 before the Bombay High Court. Before being appointed a judge of the SC in 2014, he appeared as the Special Public Prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation in the 2G trial.
The Supreme Court will have 30 judges with CJI Ramana’s retirement against a sanctioned strength of 34.