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
Justice T. S. Thakur
(3 December 2015 till 3 January 2017)
Judiciary of India
Abbreviation CJI
Seat New Delhi
Nominator Collegium of the Supreme Court
Appointer President of india
Term length till the age of 65 yrs[1]
Constituting instrument Constitution of India (under Article 124)
Formation 1950
First holder Justice H. J. Kania (26/01/1950 - 06/11/1951)[2]
Website Supreme Court of India

The Chief Justice of India (CJI) is the head of the judiciary of India[3] and the Supreme Court of India. The CJI also heads their administrative functions.

As head of the supreme court, 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 larger bench of more judges.

On the administrative side, the Chief Justice carries out the following functions: maintenance of the roster; appointment of court officials and general and miscellaneous matters relating to the supervision and functioning of the Supreme Court.

It has been an unbroken convention for decades now, to appoint the senior-most judge of the supreme court as the CJI.[4]

The present CJI is Justice T. S. Thakur, and is the 43rd CJI since January 1950, the year the constitution came into effect and the supreme court came into being. He succeeded Justice H. L. Dattu on 3 December 2015 and will remain in office till 3 January 2017, the day he turns 65 years of age.


Article 124 of the Constitution of India provides for the manner of appointing judges to the Supreme Court. Though no specific provision exists in the Constitution for appointing the Chief Justice, who, as a result, is appointed like the other judges[5] conventionally, the outgoing CJI recommends the name of the senior-most judge (i.e. by date of appointment to the Supreme Court) for appointment by the President of India, as his successor.[6]

However, this convention has been breached on a few occasions, most notably during the tenure of prime minister Indira Gandhi, when she got Justice A.N. Ray appointed as CJI, superseding three judges senior to him allegedly because he had favoured her government, and when Justice H. R. Khanna was overlooked for the post for upholding the constitution as superior to her government's acts and for curtailing her powers which she had arrogated to herself during the Emergency, a time when her government was becoming increasingly mired in a political and constitutional crisis.[7]


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 the age of 65 years. 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:[5]

Acting President[edit]

The President (Discharge of Functions) Act, 1969 of India provides that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) 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 V. V. Giri, acted as the President. Later, Mr. Giri resigned as the Vice President. The CJI, Justice Mohammad Hidayatullah then became the acting President of India. The senior-most judge of the Supreme Court became the acting CJI. When the newly elected President took office a month later, Justice Hidayatullah reverted as 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.[8][9]

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.[10]

Salary of Chief Justice of India
Date Salary
1 January 1996 33,000 (US$490)[9]
1 January 2006 100,000 (US$1,500)[8]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]