Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar was appointed as the 44th Chief Justice of India on Monday, December 19, 2016. He will be sworn in, on January 4, 2017 when incumbent Chief Justice T. S. Thakur will retire. Here’s what you must know about Justice J. S. Khehar –
- 64 year old Justice J. S. Khehar is now set to be the first Chief Justice of India from the Sikh community. He is likely to stay in office for seven months until he retires in August, 2017.
- Traditionally, the CJI is succeeded by the senior most incumbent Supreme Court judge. Following this protocol, Chief Justice Thakur wrote in to the central government on December 6, 2017, recommending Justice J. S. Khehar’s appointment.
- Justice Khehar completed his LLB and LLM from Chandigarh based Panjab University. Here he topped the LLM examination and stood first in the entire university, receiving a medal for the achievement.
- After practicing for many years before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Himachal Pradesh High Court, and the Supreme Court, he was offered the position of a judge at the Punjab and Haryana High Court in February, 1999. He was then appointed Judge of the Supreme Court in September, 2011.
- After serving as the acting Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2008-09, he was appointed Chief justice of Uttarakhand High Court in November, 2009. He was then transferred to the Karnataka High Court as its Chief Justice (2010).
- When he occupies the CJI office, Justice Khehar will be faced with a mammoth task of filling up the hundreds of vacant positions (of judges) in the high courts of the country.
- Justice Khehar had presided over a five-judge bench at the Supreme Court, which was responsible for ruling that the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), a body that had been set up by the government for the appointment of SC and HC judges, was unconstitutional. With the NJAC, the government had proposed to replace the existing collegium system. He authored the judgement in the case directing the central government to rewrite the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for appointment of judges, making it unbiased and free of political influence.
- Justice Khehar was also appointed by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha as a member of the Judges Inquiry Committee that was constituted to investigate the removal of Justice P. D. Dinakaran from the office of Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court.
- Justice Khehar also headed the five judge constitution bench which set aside the imposition of President’s rule in the state of Arunachal Pradesh earlier this year. The bench struck down the Governor’s decision to impose Article 356 and restored the Nabam Tuki-led government. Justice Khehar was also a part of the judges bench which sentenced Sahara chief Subrata Roy to jail.
- One of Justice Khehar’s landmark judgements came as the head of a three-judge bench at the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The case involved the definition of being a Sikh and he had ruled that the perception of religion must be as it is, and not as one would like it to be.