Considered as an unprecedented decision that would go against the convention, the incumbent Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde has called for a collegium meeting on Thursday even after the President of India has signed off the appointment of NV Ramana as the next CJI on Tuesday.
CJI Bobde will retire on April 23 and Justice NV Ramana will be taking the oath as the 48th Chief Justice of India on April 24.
As per the most practiced convention, once the President appoints CJI-designate, all files get routed through that CJI-designate and incumbent CJI refrains from holding any Collegium meetings further to make recommendations for the appointments of judges in Supreme Court and High Courts, the appointment of Chief Justices of HCs, and for the transfer of High Court Judges.
SC collegium also comprised Justice NV Ramana, Justice R F Nariman, Justice U U Lalit, and Justice A M Khanwilkar.
CJI Bobde took oath as CJI on November 18, 2019. He is going to complete his tenure of one year and five months on April 23. Although several meetings were conducted by the Collegium in recent weeks, the recommendation of not even a single judge was made due to the differences in the opinions between the members of the collegium.
With the decision to call this meeting, it is assumed that CJI Bobde doesn’t want to end his tenure without making a single appointment to the Supreme Court.
Failing to reach a consensus to recommend the names of judges to the Supreme Court, the oldest vacancy caused after the retirement of former CJI Ranjan Gogoi in 2019 has not yet been filled. After that, four more judges – Justices Deepak Gupta, R Banumathi, Arun Mishra and Indu Malhotra – have retired, increasing the number of vacancies to five.
CJI Bobde has scheduled the meeting for today with a five-member Collegium for considering the recommendations of SC judges and a three-member collegium to scrutinize the recommendations made by HC Collegium for the appointment of HC judges.