Justice J S Khehar is all set to become the 44th Chief Justice of India (CJI). His name has been recommended by the current CJI, T S Thakur and will be sworn in on January 4.
Justice Khehar, 64, will be the first Chief Justice from the Sikh community.
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According to the current Memorandum of Procedure, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had written to Justice Thakur to name his successor. Here are seven things to know about the Justice Khehar who will hold the tenure for over seven months till August 27, 2017.
1. Justice Khehar got his master’s degree in law from Punjab Univesity and began practice in 1979.
2. He is the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court.
Previously, he has been the chief justice of Karnataka, Uttarakhand, and Punjab-Haryana (temporary charge). He was appointed as a judge of the apex court on September 13, 2011.
3. Known for being a hard-nosed judge, Justice Khehar headed the five-judge constitution bench in the Supreme Court that struck down the controversial National Judicial Accountability Commission (NJAC) Act for the appointment of judges in October 2015.
Citing that the NJAC Act violates the basic structure of the constitution, the bench had declared the 99th Amendment and NJAC Act unconstitutional. The observations made by J S Khehar in his judgment were insightful.
He had said, “…One is constrained to conclude, that in the process of evolution of societies across the globe, the trend is to free the judiciary from executive and political control, and to incorporate a system of selection and appointment of Judges, based purely on merit. For it is only then, that the process of judicial review will effectively support nation building.”
4. He also headed the bench that had set aside the imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh in January this year.
The reversal of President’s rule ordered restoration of the Congress government dismissed by the NDA government.
5. He headed the bench that recently gave a significant verdict upholding the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.
The judgement made the principle applicable to daily wagers as well as casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as regular employees.
6. He was a part of the bench that sent Sahara Chief Subrata Roy to jail after hearing the matter related to the refund of money invested by people in his companies.
7. Justice Khehar doesn’t hesitate before speaking his mind openly.
Recently, when Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi advised the court to stay within its ‘Lakshman Rekha’ during a function, Khehar spoke up for the judiciary, saying, “Be it the 39th amendment of the Constitution (placing the office of PM beyond judicial scrutiny) or the latest amendment affecting independence of the judiciary (a reference to the NJAC Act), the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional ethos. That, is our Laxman Rekha.”