"Appointment of the Chief Justice of India should be of the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court deemed fit to hold the office," according to the memorandum of Procedure that regulates the appointment of members of the higher judiciary.
It means that the Law Minister will request the outgoing Chief Justice of India's recommendation for the selection of the next CJI at a later date. The Law Minister presents the recommendation of the CJI to the Prime Minister, who advises the President on certain appointments.
Appointment of Chief Justice of India in Constitution of India
The President, in accordance with clause (1) of Article 217 of the Constitution, appoints the Chief Justice and the judges of the High Courts.
What is a Collegium?
The Collegium System is the process by which Supreme Court judges are appointed, promoted, and transferred. It is overseen by a forum comprised of the Chief Justice of India and four of the Supreme Court's most senior judges.
The original Indian Constitution, as well as subsequent revisions, make no such mention of the Collegium.
What is the Process Derived in the Indian Constitution for Appointment of Chief Justice of India?
- Law Minister will request the outgoing Chief Justice of India's recommendation for the selection of the new CJI.
- During the procedure, the Law Minister receives the CJI's recommendation and presents it to the Prime Minister, who advises the President on the nomination.
- If the CJI's fitness is questioned, other judges are consulted before the next CJI is appointed.
- The President of India appoints the judges of the Supreme Court.
- The President appoints the CJI after consulting with the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court if the President considers it appropriate.
- The President appoints all other Supreme Court judges after consulting with the Chief Justice.
- The Supreme Court can have a maximum of 31 judges (one Chief Justice and 30 other judges). In the current situation, the Supreme Court has only 27 judges (including the Chief Justice).
- In the case of the three judges, it was determined that the appointment of the CJI in India requires the consultation of a majority of judges.
- This suggests that the CJI's sole opinion will not be the sole criterion for selecting the next CJI. The Chief Justice must also consult the Supreme Court's four most senior judges. However, the retiring Chief Justice Officer has chosen the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court as the next CJI.