The next few months will be critical for India’s top court, as three different Chief Justices of India (CJI) will serve as the country’s top judge in a three-month period.
Moreover, more vacancies at the Supreme Court are expected to follow, as other judges are set to retire in the coming months.
Extension of CJI tenure
Though this is not the first time the country has seen three different Chief Justices in such a short period of time, the subject of a fixed tenure for the CJI has been addressed once again.
Further, there have been discussions about extending the tenure of Supreme Court judges to at least three years and raising the retirement age from 65 to 70 years.
However, such a short tenure of judges in the Supreme Court, which is dealing with a backlog of over three crore cases, will not only make it difficult to clear the backlog, but it will also make it difficult for any CJI to effectively implement new changes and introduce policies that will help to improve the current system.
Meanwhile, N V Ramana, the current CJI, will step down on August 16 and be replaced by Justice U U Lalit, who will serve for about two months till November 8, and then by Justice D Y Chandrachud, who will serve for two years.
In addition, when Justice Chandrachud becomes the Chief Justice of India, he and his father will make history as the first father-son combination to hold the position. Justice Y V Chandrachud, Justice D Y Chandrachud’s father, was India’s 16th Chief Justice, serving from February 1978 until July 1985.
Justice Vineet Saran, a Supreme Court justice, will retire on May 10, followed by Justice L Nageshwara Rao on June 7 and Justice A M Khanwilkar on July 29.
Justice Indira Banerjee, one of the supreme court’s only four female judges, will step down on September 23 and Justice Hemant Gupta will step down on October 16.
The Supreme Court currently has only two vacancies, but that number is projected to climb dramatically in the coming months.
The current CJI now has the responsibility of considering candidates for promotion in a timely way so that the number of cases pending, which stood at 70, 362 at the time of the last official record, does not increase.
Judges in India serve for a shorter period of time than judges in other countries. Judges in the United Kingdom and Canada retire at the ages of 75 and 70, respectively, although judges in Australia, Belgium, and Norway serve until they are 70.
Judges from the United States, Russia, New Zealand, and Iceland, for example, work for a lifetime.