Justice Gogoi to take over as the next CJI

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Justice Ranjan Gogoi will take over as the next Chief Justice of India (CJI) after the retirement of current CJI Dipak Misra, according to a report by India Legal.

Dipak Misra retires on October 2 this year. As per protocol, Misra needs to recommend the name of his successor to the Ministry of Law by September 2, according to the report.

While the reported appointment of Gogoi was expected as per the Supreme Court tradition, a press conference addressed by Gogoi along with three other top SC judges in January had added ambiguity to the issue.

Justice Jasti Chelameswar was the senior-most judge after Misra until the former’s retirement on May 18 this year.

Justice Gogoi was born in 1954 and joined the Bar in 1978. He was appointed as the Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court in 2011 and elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court on April 23, 2012. Gogoi will have a tenure of 1 year, 1 month and 14 days until his retirement on November 17, 2019.

The Union law ministry has sent a communication to the Chief Justice to recommend the name of his successor so that it could commence the process of appointment at least three weeks before Misra demits office.

Normally the recommendation is sent a month before the CJI demits office. According to highly placed sources, CJI Misra is expected to send his recommendation early next week and the government is likely to accept it.  There was speculation in the judiciary and the government whether Justice Ranjan Gogoi who spearheaded a revolt by holding a press conference on January 12 along with his three companion judges, J. Chelameswar (who has since retired), Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph would  be made the next CJI.

It is in this context the Law Ministry has written to Justice Misra to make his recommendation at the earliest. Under the Memorandum of Procedure evolved under the collegium system, it is customary and a convention for the outgoing CJI to name the senior most judge as his successor. There have been two attempts earlier to bypass the convention or “supersede” judges, after   Independence.

The first “supersession” was in 1973 involving three judges. The then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi appointed Justice A.N. as the CJI overlooking the three seniormost judges of the Supreme Court, Justices J.M. Shelat, A.N Grover and K. S Hegde.  The second and possibly most infamous supersession, happened during the height of the Emergency, when Mrs. Gandhi disapproved the dissenting judgment of Justice H.R. Khanna and Justice M.H. Beg was appointed as the CJI.

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