SC junks plea against appointment of Justice Khehar as next CJI

New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition challenging the appointment of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar as the next Chief Justice of India (CJI) in succession to incumbent Chief Justice T.S. Thakur when he demits office on Wednesday morning.

Justice Khehar will be sworn-in as the Chief Justice of India by President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday. The President on December 19 appointed Khehar as the 44th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud through a brief order dismissed the plea by Tejsingh Ashokrao Gaikwad that Justice Khehar is not qualified to become the Chief Justice as he had authored a judgment holding as unconstitutional the National Judicial Appointments Commission for the appointment of judges to higher judiciary.

The petitioner had sought direction restraining the Centre from administering the oath of office of the Chief Justice of India to Justice Khehar.

The petitioner had contended that by virtue of being the Chief Justice of India, Justice Khehar would have the power to recommend the appointment of seven judges to the top court.

The five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice Khehar had on October 16 declared as unconstitutional the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, and the National Judicial Appointment Act, 2014. The judgment of the Constitution Bench was authored by Justice Khehar.

The apex court on December 30 dismissed a similar petition by the National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms and others, seeking the quashing of Justice Khehar’s appointment as the next Chief Justice of India.

Rejecting all objections, the Supreme Court on December 30 noted the part of the petition which said: “Khehar, undoubtedly, is one of the most upright judges of the Supreme Court; the petitioners are all proud of his Lordship… Nobody could point a finger at him when it comes to his honesty, integrity and uprightness. His Lordship is a real diamond in that sense.”

The court by its December 30 order said that besides the Chief Justice of India, four senior-most judges of the apex court are members of the collegium that recommends names for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the high courts.