8 Next CJIs
Two of the next 8 CJIs have been elevated to the Supreme Court directly from the Bar; and one will be the first woman CJI.
For an updated list of the Judges in line to become Chief Justice of India as of May 2022, click here.
The current CJI N.V. Ramana will retire on August 26th, 2022. This post introduces the next seven CJIs after N.V. Ramana, if the norm of seniority is followed.
The Chief Justice of India (CJI) occupies an important position as the ‘master of the roster’ by allocating cases to judges, a role that caused much controversy in 2018. Besides this, the CJI supervises the administration of the Court and heads the collegium that recommends judicial appointments.
Among the future Chief Justices of India we can predict, Nagarathna J will be the first woman CJI. Additionally, all seven are second-generation lawyers, and two (Chandrachud and Nagarathna JJ) will be second-generation CJIs.
Lalit J practiced at the Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court, largely in criminal law. He will be the 49th Chief Justice of India for just three months. Further, following in the footsteps of Justice S.M. Sikri, he will be the second CJI to have been directly elevated from the Supreme Court Bar.
He was on the bench for 888 judgments, out of which he wrote 281 (31.64%). A high concentration of these cases are in criminal law matters (110). 202 judgments have cited him. He was a part of the Bench in crucial cases including Triple Talaq, Electoral Appeals Case, ‘Misuse’ of the SC/ST Act. In addition to this, he is on the Bench which will hear the Constitutionality of Sedition, which will be the third time he has heard such a challenge: the previous two times, the Bench refused to reconsider its constitutionality.
Chandrachud J began his practice in the Supreme Court and various High Courts. In 2000, he became a judge of the Bombay High Court and went on to take the position of Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court in 2013. In 2016, he was elevated to the Supreme Court. As the 50th CJI, he is likely to have a two-year tenure.
He was on the bench for 973 judgments, out of which he wrote 458 (47.07%). 300 judgments cite him. Chandrachud J was a part of several significant Constitution Benches that expanded on constitutional morality, which serves to ‘transform’ society, including Section 377 and Sabarimala Temple Entry. Besides this, he was also part of the bench in: Special Status of Delhi, Fundamental Right to Privacy. He also wrote dissenting opinions in the Constitutionality of Aadhaar Act and Arrested Activists.
Khanna J started his legal practice at the Delhi High Court. After 20 years of practice, he became a judge there. Later, without serving as Chief Justice in any High Court, he was directly elevated to the Supreme Court in 2019. He will serve as the CJI for six months.
He was on the bench for 265 judgments, out of which he wrote 63 (23.77%). 36 judgments have cited him. One of his important judgments increased the use of Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails. He is on the bench of pending cases that include RTI & Judicial Independence, MLA Bribery Case.
Kant J began his practice in the Punjab & Haryana High Court in 1985. Nineteen years later, he became a judge at the same High Court and remained there until he was promoted to Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court in 2018. In 2019, he was elevated to the Supreme Court.
He was on the bench for 230 judgments, out of which he wrote 37 (16.08%). 28 judgments have cited him. One of his important judgments held that extinguishing water bodies would violate the right to life. He is on the bench for important pending cases such as Article 370, Citizenship Amendment Act and the Pegasus Spyware Probe.
Nath J began practicing at the Allahabad High Court in 1987. In 2004, he was elevated as a judge there and was promoted as a Chief Justice 15 years later. When he was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2021, he was the most senior Chief Justice. He will have a short tenure of seven months as CJI.
Over the last 3 months, Nath J was on the bench for 58 judgments, out of which he wrote 9 (15.51%). He is currently hearing a constitutional challenge against reservations for OBC and EWS candidates in medical education.
Nagarathna J practiced at the Karnataka High Court for 21 years before she was appointed as a judge at the High Court in 2008. As an advocate, she primarily handled many public law cases. In 2021, she was elevated to the Supreme Court. When she becomes Chief Justice, she will be the first woman CJI as the 54rd Chief Justice since 1950. However, she will have the third-shortest tenure as a CJI of just 36 days.
Nagarathna J was on the bench for 140 judgments, out of which she wrote 24 (17.14%). She is currently hearing a constitutional challenge against reservations for OBC and EWS candidates in medical education.
Narasimha J was a practicing lawyer at the Supreme Court until 2021, when he was directly elevated to the Supreme Court. Between 2014 and 2018, he acted as the Additional Solicitor General for the Union. During his practice, he has played important roles in the Ayodhya Title Dispute, representing the deity Ram, and in the BCCI case, as an amicus curiae overseeing the reforms. As CJI, he will have a tenure of 19 months.
Over the last 3 months, Narasimha J has been on the bench for 9 judgments, out of which he wrote 1.
The data on the number of judgments and citations is from Manupatra’s Judge Analytics, accessed on March 21st 2021.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article published on November 23rd 2021 did not include Justice B.R. Gavai as next in line for CJI. Further, it mistakenly stated that Justice U.U. Lalit was the first CJI to be elevated directly from the Supreme Court Bar; Justice S.M. Sikri was the first such CJI. The errors are regretted. The article was corrected and data updated on March 21st 2022.