Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad speaks during the ET Global Business Summit in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Udit Kulshrestha/Bloomberg)

Don’t Question Government On Appointment Of Next Chief Justice Of India: Law Minister

The government’s intention on the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India should not be questioned as it will only take a call after the incumbent names his successor, according to Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

“As far as the appointment of the Chief Justice of India is concerned, the convention is clear – the sitting chief justice names the senior-most judge as his successor,” Prasad said at a press conference today. “When the name comes to us, we will discuss it.”

Prasad was responding to a question on whether the government will follow the laid-down conventions and procedures to appoint Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the next Chief Justice when incumbent Dipak Misra demits office on Oct. 2.

Speculations surrounding Justice Gogoi's appointment as the next CJI emerged following the unprecedented press conference of four seniormost judges in January this year. The judges had criticised Justice Misra over various issues, especially the manner of allocation of cases to certain benches. Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph addressed the historic press conference, that was a first for the Indian judiciary.

“Appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India should be of the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office,” according to the memorandum of procedure, a document which guides the appointment and transfer of judges of the apex court and the 24 high courts. Days before the CJI's retirement, the law minister seeks his recommendation for the appointment of his successor.

Responding to another question on the delay in finalising the memorandum of procedure for appointment of judges, Prasad said discussions were on and the Supreme Court and the government would have to finalise the document together. “Our view [on the MoP] is that the norms of those selected (as judges) have to be mentioned [in the document].”