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
Dipak Mishra.png
Justice Dipak Misra
(28 August 2017 - 2 October 2018)
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 January 1950 – 6 November 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.[4] 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.[5]

The present CJI is Justice Dipak Misra and is the 45th CJI since January 1950, the year the Constitution came into effect and the supreme court came into being. He succeeded Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar on 28 August 2017 and will remain in office till 2 October 2018, the day he retires on turning 65 years in 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[6] 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.[7][8]

Once earlier, when prime minister Nehru wanted to see Justice M. C. Mahajan, next in line to become the CJI, superseded on Justice Patanjali Sastri's retirement, three judges of the supreme court, including Justice Mukherjea, who Nehru wanted as the next Chief Justice, offered to resign. He relented before the judges and the convention of seniority in appointment was left undisturbed. On the contrary, this convention has been breached on a few occasions during the tenure of prime minister Indira Gandhi. 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[9]


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 s 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:[6]

Acting President

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,

List of Chief Justices of India

Number Hon'ble Justice Mr. Period of office Length of term (days) Bar Appointed by the President of India
1 H. J. Kania 26 January 1950 6 November 1951‡‡ 649 Bombay High Court Rajendra Prasad
2 M. Patanjali Sastri 7 November 1951 3 January 1954 788 Madras High Court
3 Mehr Chand Mahajan 4 January 1954 22 December 1954 352 Punjab and Haryana High Court
4 Bijan Kumar Mukherjea 23 December 1954 31 January 1956 404 Calcutta High Court
5 Sudhi Ranjan Das 1 February 1956 30 September 1959 1337 Calcutta High Court
6 Bhuvaneshwar Prasad Sinha 1 October 1959 31 January 1964 1583 Patna High Court
7 P. B. Gajendragadkar 1 February 1964 15 March 1966 773 Bombay High Court Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
8 Amal Kumar Sarkar 16 March 1966 29 June 1966 105 Calcutta High Court
9 Koka Subba Rao 30 June 1966 11 April 1967 285 Madras High Court
10 Kailas Nath Wanchoo 12 April 1967 24 February 1968 318 Allahabad High Court
11 Mohammad Hidayatullah[10] 25 February 1968 16 December 1970 1025 Bombay High Court Zakir Husain
12 Jayantilal Chhotalal Shah 17 December 1970 21 January 1971 35 Bombay High Court Varahagiri Venkata Giri
13 Sarv Mittra Sikri 22 January 1971 25 April 1973 824 Lahore High Court
14 Ajit Nath Ray 26 April 1973 27 January 1977 1372 Calcutta High Court
15 Mirza Hameedullah Beg 28 January 1977 21 February 1978 389 Allahabad High Court Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed
16 Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud 22 February 1978 11 July 1985 2696 Bombay High Court Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
17 Prafullachandra Natwarlal Bhagwati 12 July 1985 20 December 1986 526 Gujarat High Court Gyani Zail Singh
18 Raghunandan Swarup Pathak 21 December 1986 18 June 1989 940 Allahabad High Court
19 Engalaguppe Seetharamiah Venkataramiah 19 June 1989 17 December 1989 181 Karnataka High Court Ramaswamy Venkataraman
20 Sabyasachi Mukharji 18 December 1989 25 September 1990‡‡ 281 Calcutta High Court
21 Ranganath Misra 26 September 1990 24 November 1991 424 Odisha High Court
22 Kamal Narain Singh 25 November 1991 12 December 1991 17 Allahabad High Court
23 Madhukar Hiralal Kania 13 December 1991 17 November 1992 340 Bombay High Court
24 Lalit Mohan Sharma 18 November 1992 11 February 1993 85 Patna High Court Shankar Dayal Sharma
25 Manepalli Narayana Rao Venkatachaliah 12 February 1993 24 October 1994 619 Karnataka High Court
26 Aziz Mushabber Ahmadi 25 October 1994 24 March 1997 881 Gujarat High Court
27 Jagdish Sharan Verma 25 March 1997 17 January 1998 298 Madhya Pradesh High Court
28 Madan Mohan Punchhi 18 January 1998 9 October 1998 264 Punjab and Haryana High Court Kocheril Raman Narayanan
29 Adarsh Sein Anand 10 October 1998 11 January 2001 824 Jammu and Kashmir High Court
30 Sam Piroj Bharucha 11 January 2001 6 May 2002 480 Bombay High Court
31 Bhupinder Nath Kirpal 6 May 2002 8 November 2002 186 Delhi High Court
32 Gopal Ballav Pattanaik 8 November 2002 19 December 2002 41 Odisha High Court A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
33 V. N. Khare 19 December 2002 2 May 2004 500 Allahabad High Court
34 S. Rajendra Babu 2 May 2004 1 June 2004 30 Karnataka High Court
35 Ramesh Chandra Lahoti 1 June 2004 1 November 2005 518 Madhya Pradesh High Court
36 Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal 1 November 2005 13 January 2007 438 Delhi High Court
37 K. G. Balakrishnan 13 January 2007 11 May 2010 1214 Kerala High Court
38 S. H. Kapadia 12 May 2010 28 September 2012 870 Bombay High Court Pratibha Patil
39 Altamas Kabir 29 September 2012 18 July 2013 292 Calcutta High Court Pranab Mukherjee
40 P. Sathasivam 19 July 2013 26 April 2014 281 Madras High Court
41 Rajendra Mal Lodha 27 April 2014 27 September 2014 153 Rajasthan High Court
42 H. L. Dattu 28 September 2014 2 December 2015 430 Karnataka High Court
43 T. S. Thakur 3 December 2015 3 January 2017 397 Jammu and Kashmir High Court
44 J. S. Khehar 4 January 2017 27 August 2017 235 Punjab and Haryana High Court
45 Dipak Misra 28 August 2017 2 October 2018 87 Odisha High Court Ram Nath Kovind
  • -Date of Resignation[11]
  • ‡‡ - Date of Death


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.[12][13] This remuneration was revised in 2006-2008, after the sixth central pay commission's recommendation.[14]

See also


  1. ^ "Supreme Court of India - CJI & Sitting Judges". Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Supreme Court of India Retired Hon'ble the Chief Justices' of India". Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Narasimham, R L, Justice (CJ, Orissa H. C.). "Chief Justice Sinha - A Review of Some of His Decisions (page 5 of 8)" (PDF). Indian Law Institute. 
  4. ^ Saxena, Namit (23 December 2016). "New Captain Of The Ship, Change In Sailing Rules Soon?". Live Law. Retrieved 24 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Alok (26 November 2010). "How India missed getting its first woman Chief Justice India". Critical Twenties. Retrieved 4 September 2016. 
  6. ^ a b "Article 124, Constitution of India". Archived from the original on 26 December 2010. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  7. ^ Venkatesan, J. (4 November 2015). "TS Thakur to succeed HL Dattu as new Chief Justice of India". Asian Age. Retrieved 5 November 2015. 
  8. ^ "Seniority as the Norm to Appoint India's Chief Justice is a Dubious Convention". The WIre. Retrieved 24 December 2016. 
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 October 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2009. 
  10. ^ Only CJ to ever serve as Vice-President of India, and later Acting President of India.
  11. ^ "Supreme Court of India - LIST OF RETIRED HON'BLE CHIEF JUSTICES". Retrieved 14 January 2017. 
  12. ^ "The High Court and Supreme Court Judges Salaries and Conditions of Service Amendment Bill 2008" (PDF). PRS India. 
  13. ^ "Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act 1958" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 January 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  14. ^

External links

  • Official website of Supreme Court of India
  • Photo Gallery of Former Chief Justices of India

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