Chief Justice of India

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Chief Justice of India
Emblem of the Supreme Court of India.svg
Emblem of the Supreme Court of India
H. L. Dattu

since 27 September 2014
Residence New Delhi
Appointer Incumbent President of India
Inaugural holder H. J. Kania
Formation 1950
Salary INR100000 (US$1,600) monthly
w.e.f. 1 January 2006[1]
Website Supreme Court of India

The Chief Justice of India is the highest-ranking judge in the Supreme Court of India, and thus holds the highest judicial position in India. As well as presiding in the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice also heads its administrative functions.

As the chief judge, the Chief Justice is responsible for the allocation of cases and appointment of constitutional benches which deal with important matters of law. In accordance with Article 145 of the Constitution of India and the Supreme Court Rules of Procedure of 1966, the Chief Justice allocates all work to the other judges who are bound to refer the matter back to him or her (for re-allocation) in any case where they require it to be looked into by a bench of higher strength.

On the administrative side, the Chief Justice carries out the following functions:

  • Maintenance of the roster;
  • Appointment of court officials;
  • General and miscellaneous matters relating to the supervision and functioning of the Supreme Court.


Article 124 of the Constitution of India provides for the manner of appointing judges to the Supreme Court. However, no specific provision is made as to the appointment of the Chief Justice; as a result, the Chief Justice is appointed in the same manner as for the other judges to the Supreme Court.[2]

Generally, the most senior (i.e. earliest appointed) judge in the Supreme Court is appointed by the President. However, this convention has been breached on a number of occasions, most notably during the premiership of Indira Gandhi, who appointed A.N. Ray despite three judges being more senior than him. It has been alleged that Ray was appointed because he was considered to be a supporter of Gandhi's government, during a time when her government was becoming increasingly mired in a political and constitutional crisis.[3]

Judicial Appointments Commission Bill[edit]


The Commission seeks to perform functions that relate to appointment, transfer and quality of candidates. The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 24, 2013 by the Minister of Law and Justice, Mr. Kapil Sibal. The Bill has been introduced in conjunction with the Constitutional (One Hundred and Twentieth Amendment) Bill, 2013, which inserts Article 124A, providing for the setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission, and is pending before Parliament. The Bill provides for the composition, functions and procedure of the Judicial Appointments Commission. The Commission is sought to be established for the purpose of recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice and other Judges of High Courts. The Bill seeks to enable equal participation of Judiciary and Executive, ensure that the appointments to the higher judiciary are more participatory, transparent and objective. Establishment and composition of Commission

The Commission shall be chaired by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and shall comprise of two other senior most Judges of the Supreme Court, the Union Minister for Law and Justice and two eminent persons to be nominated by the collegium. The collegium comprises the Prime Minister, the CJI and Leader of Opposition of the Lok Sabha. The eminent members will retain membership for a three year period and are not eligible for re nomination. The Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Justice shall be the convener of the Commission.

Functions of Commission

The Commission seeks to perform functions that relate to appointment, transfer and quality of candidates. Those include (i) recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India; judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Courts and other judges of High Courts; (ii) recommending of transfer of Chief Justices of High Courts and the judges of High Courts, from one High Court to any other High Court; (iii) ensuring that the person recommended is of ability, integrity and standing in the legal profession. The procedure for recommendation with respect to appointment of High Court Judges includes eliciting views of the Governor, Chief Minister and Chief Justice of High Court of the concerned state, in writing. This shall be in accordance with procedure specified by regulations made by the Commission.

Reference to Commission for filling up of vacancies

Upon the arising of a vacancy in the High Court and Supreme Court, references to the Commission shall be made by the Central Government. Intimation of existing vacancies shall be made within a period of three months from the date of coming into force of this Act. In the case of vacancy due to the completion of term, reference shall be made two months prior to the date of occurrence of vacancy. In the case of vacancy due to the death, resignation, reference shall be made within a period of two months from the date of occurrence of vacancy.

Procedure for short listing of candidates

Process for selection shall be initiated by the Convener, by inviting recommendations from the Chief Justices of High Courts, the Central Government and the State Governments, for candidates fulfilling eligibility criteria. The Commission may make regulations to specify the procedure for short listing of candidates for considering their appointment as Judges to the High Court and Supreme Court.


Article 124(4) of Constitution of India lays down the procedure for removal of a Judge of Supreme Court which is applicable to Chief Justice as well. Once appointed, the Chief Justice remains in office until his retirement age of 65 years or death. He can be removed only through a process of impeachment by Parliament as follows:

A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

— Article 124(4), Constitution of India , Source:[2]

Acting President[edit]

The constitution of India provides that the Chief Justice of India shall act as the President of India in the event of the offices of both the President and the Vice President being vacant. When President Zakir Hussain died in office, the Vice President VV Giri, acted as the President. However, Mr. Giri resigned as the Vice President. Then the Chief Justice Hidayatullah became the acting President of India. The most senior judge of the Supreme Court became the acting Chief Justice of India. When the newly elected President took office a month later, Justice Hidayatullah again became the Chief Justice of India.


The Constitution of India gives the power of deciding remuneration as well as other conditions of service of the Chief Justice to the Parliament of India. Accordingly, such provisions have been laid down in The Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958.[1][5]

The sixth central pay commission recommended revision in the salaries and other allowances and pensionary benefits of the central government employees, including the high court and supreme court judges and all India services. The government has accepted the majority of recommendations of the commission and issued orders.[6]

Salary of Chief Justice of India
Date Salary
1 January 1996 INR33000 (US$530)[5]
1 January 2006 INR100000 (US$1,600)[1]

See also[edit]

List of Chief Justices of India

External links[edit]


Order of precedence
Preceded by
Former Presidents and Deputy Prime Minister
Chief Justice of India
with Speaker of Lok Sabha
Succeeded by