New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee cleared the file for the appointment of justice JS Khehar as the next Chief Justice of India on Monday evening. Justice Khehar, the country’s first CJI from the Sikh community, will take over on January 4, a day after incumbent CJI TS Thakur retires.
The process for his appointment was set into motion when justice Thakur wrote to the union government on December 6 recommending him as the next chief justice.
This appointment follows the tradition of the CJI being succeeded by the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court. Justice Khehar will have a short tenure of a little over seven months — from January 4 till August 28.
The five-judge bench headed by him shot down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), a body set up through a constitutional amendment unanimously passed by Parliament, to select judges for the SC and HCs.
He authored the lead judgement in the case, terming the NJAC – of which the law minister was part of the committee to select judges – a threat to the independence of the judiciary.
The bench including justice Khehar did not hesitate in criticising the opaque collegium procedure followed to appoint judges. The bench had directed the government to redraft the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for judges’ appointment and make it more transparent.
As the CJI, justice Khehar will have a mammoth task to finalise the MoP – a bone of contention between the government and judiciary. He also faces a daunting job of filling over 400 vacancies in various high courts.