1. Appointment of Supreme Court Judges Under the Constitution of India
Article 124 of the Constitution of India describes the process for appointment and removal of judges of the Supreme Court. The currently sanctioned strength of the court is 26 judges (CJI + 25).
Who is Eligible to Become a Judge of the Supreme Court?
According to Article 124(3), the following people can become a Supreme Court judge:
- (1) A High Court judge who has held the post for five years or longer (like the current CJI, Dipak Misra);
- (2) An advocate who has practiced in a High Court (or the Supreme Court) for ten years or longer (for example Justice Rohinton Nariman); and
- (3) A distinguished jurist – technically this could include a scholar (like, say, Upendra Baxi), though no judge has ever been appointed on this basis.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to appointing existing High Court judges is seniority – more senior judges in these courts should be considered for elevation to the Supreme Court. However, where a particular judge has demonstrated exceptional ability or character, the order of superiority can be superseded. The reasons behind that particular judge being appointed need to be recorded in such cases.
Who Appoints the Judges?
Under this Article, the judges of the Supreme Court are to be appointed by the President of India.
However, unlike the procedure followed in other countries, such as the USA, the appointment of Supreme Court judges in India happens with the involvement of the Judiciary. Article 124(2) says that the President shall appoint the judges:
For the appointment of any judge of the Supreme Court apart from the CJI, the Article also says that the Chief Justice of India must be consulted.