Centre asks CJI Lalit to name successor; Justice Chandrachud frontrunner
Chief Justice of India (CJI) Uday Umesh Lalit has been asked by the government to name his successor as he is set to retire on November 8. According to NDTV, the Union Law Ministry has written to CJI requesting him to name his successor. The top court's senior-most judge Justice DY Chandrachud will likely become the 50th CJI after the retirement of Lalit.
Rules to appoint the Chief Justice
According to the rules, the incumbent CJI suggests the name of his successor after receiving the official communication from the Law Ministry asking him/her to do so. After the SC collegium's recommendations are finalized and received from the CJI, the Law Minister will put up the recommendation to the Prime Minister who will advise the President on the matter of appointment.
Timeline not specified under rules
The procedure doesn't specify a timeline but the appointment process often starts a month before the current CJI retires despite the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) saying that the CJI's opinions must be obtained "at the appropriate time."
SC collegium meeting delayed
According to NDTV, the collegium was set to meet on September 30 to evaluate the four candidates for appointment as Supreme Court judges. However, the panel of judges was unable to convene since Justice Chandrachud was presiding over his court until late in the afternoon due to a heavy workload. The following day, the court adjourned for the Dussehra vacation on October 1.
Rift in collegium following CJI Lalit's letter
According to reports, the SC collegium is now split over the appointment of four justices to the SC. Two collegium justices have opposed CJI Lalit's request for their written opinions, reports claimed. The judges have allegedly stated that their opinions cannot be expressed in writing and that, by tradition, the names must be debated in meetings.
Who is Justice DY Chandrachud?
Justice Chandrachud is the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court after the CJI, and as per protocol, CJI names the senior-most judge as his or her successor. He served as the Additional Solicitor General of India, the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, and was associated with the Bombay High Court before being elevated as an SC judge in 2016.