President Droupadi Murmu appointed Justice Uday Umesh Lalit as the 49th Chief Justice of India. Justice Lalit will succeed Justice N V Ramana who is due to retire on August 26.


Constitutional Position

  • Article 124(2) of Indian Constitution deals with the appointment of Judges of Supreme Court. As per this article —
    • Every judge of SC is to be appointed by the President.
    • President will consult such judges of the SC and of the HCs in the States as the President may deem necessary.
    • CJI shall always be consulted in case of the appointment of judge other than the Chief Justice of SC.
  • Eligibility —
    • For a person to become a judge of Supreme Court he must be a citizen of India, and
      • Must have 5 years of experience as a judge in the High Court; or
      • must have 10 years of experience as an advocate in High Court; or
      • is in the opinion of the president, a distinguished Jurist.
  • Process —
    • When a vacancy for the post of a Supreme Court judge arises, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) sends his recommendation to the Union Minister of Law.
    • The CJI decides on his recommendation in consultation with a collegium of the four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.


Appointment of Chief Justice of India

  • As per the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP), appointment to the office of the CJI should be of the seniormost Judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office.
  • The Union Minister of Law would, at the appropriate time, seek the recommendation of the outgoing CJI for the appointment of the next CJI.
    • Whenever there is any doubt about the fitness of the seniormost Judge to hold the office of the Chief Justice of India, consultation with other Judges as envisaged in Article 124 (2) of the Constitution would be made for appointment of the next CJI.
  • After receipt of the recommendation of the outgoing CJI, the Union Minister of Law will put up the recommendation to the Prime Minister.
  • PM, then, will advise the President in the matter of appointment.


Memorandum of procedure (MoP) of appointment of Supreme Court Judges

  • Currently, Judges are appointed by MoP – a crucial document agreed upon by the government and the judiciary on appointment of judges.
  • Since Collegium system is a judicial innovation (not mandated through legislation of constitutional texts), MoP was brought into working.
  • MoP fixes the protocol under which the collegium system works.