Next 8 CJIs of India
If the seniority principle is followed, these 8 Judges will lead the Supreme Court of India as Chief Justice till 2031.
Spandana: Hello everyone! Welcome to SCO Explains. I am Spandana,
Advay: and I am Advay.
Spandana: Today we’re going to be talking about the next 8 Chief Justices of the Supreme Court. The current Chief Justice, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, is set to retire in November 2024 after a two year tenure. If the seniority principle is followed, which means if the senior most Judge of the Court is appointed as the Chief Justice, then we can estimate who the next eight Justices may be and when they will be elevated.
Advay: Before we get into that, why does it matter who the Chief Justice is? During their tenure the Chief Justice of India plays a key role in deciding the fate of the SC as an institution. A Chief Justice is the ‘Master of the Roster’, or the ‘first among equals’. There are certain roles and responsibilities such as constituting benches, assigning cases, appointments of judges in the Supreme Court and various High Courts, and a wide range of administrative work.
Spandana: So a Chief Justice could change how cases are listed each day. They decide when some cases are heard. For example, Chief Justice Ramana was not very well known for listing constitution benches. So in his 1.5 year tenure as Chief Justice, none of the big constitution bench cases were heard or decided. In contrast, Chief Justice Lalit listed about 25 cases in his short two months tenure. Chief Justice Lalit also green lit Justice Chandrachud’s initiative to live stream constitution bench cases. During his own term, Chief Justice Chandrachud bought in live transcription of constitution bench hearings using artificial intelligence and much more.
So it’s safe to say that whether they make use of it or not, a Chief Justice wields considerable power to change the Supreme Court’s functioning. So it’s of utmost importance who sits in that chair because it decides what our Court is going to be like.
Advay: So let’s dive in and take a look at who the next 8 Chief Justices are going to be. Our list begins with Justice Sanjeev Khanna, who is next in line after the incumbent CJI Chandrachud. Justice Khanna will become the CJI in November 2024, for a period of six months. He was elevated to the Supreme Court from the Delhi High Court. During his 4 year tenure so far,Justice Khanna has been a part of several constitution benches and authored several notable judgments. Recently, for example, in Shilpa Shailesh v Varun Sreenivasan he wrote the unanimous judgement for a five judge Constitution Bench which held that the Supreme Court has the power to directly grant divorce under Article 142 of the Constitution on the ground of irretrievable breakdown of marriage. In 2019, he authored the majority opinion in the famous RTI case which held that judicial independence is not a ground to oppose the right to information.
Spandana: Next, we have Justice B. R. Gavai. He will take oath as the Chief Justice in May 2025 and will hold office for a little over six months. Justice Gavai was previously at the Bombay High Court before his elevation to the Supreme Court. He’s also the first judge at the Supreme Court from the scheduled Caste community since 2010. He’s been at the Supreme Court for about four years now and during this time he’s been part of several constitution benches as well. Most notably, he wrote the majority opinion which upheld the Union’s 2016 Demonetisation scheme. He’s also on the five judge Bench which held that the government is not accountable for statements made by public officials.
Advay: Next, we have Justice Surya Kant who is set to become the 53rd Chief Justice of India in November 2025. He was elevated from the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2019. In his two years of the Supreme Court so far, he was part of the Bench that upheld the One Rank One Pension scheme and the Bench which held that arbitrators cannot unilaterally decide their fees.
Spandana: Justice Vikram Nath will be the Chief Justice in February 2027. Before his elevation to the Supreme Court, he was the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court. His parent High Court, however, is the Allahabad High Court. Justice Nath has been part of several constitution bench activities in his 2 year tenure so far. Recently, he was on the Constitution Bench that rejected the Union’s curative petition seeking additional compensation for the victims of the Bhopal Gas tragedy. He was also on the Bench which referred the excommunication of the Dawoodi Bohra members community to a 9-Judge Bench which is hearing the Sabarimala review petitions.
Advay: Our next CJI holds special importance. Justice B. V. Nagarathna in September 2027 will make history by becoming the first woman Chief Justice of India. Her tenure is also the shortest of all the judges on this list with just 36 days in office. She hails from the Karnataka High Court. She has been an active participant in the constitution benches in her tenure so far. Most notably, she authored a dissenting opinion in the Union’s 2016 Demonetisation scheme. She held that the scheme was unlawful on legal grounds. She was part of the unanimous judgement which held that public servants can be convicted for bribery based on circumstantial evidence. Interestingly, she also authored this judgement.
Spandana: After Justice Nagarathna, Justice P. S. Narasimha will assume the Office of the CJI in October 2027. He will follow former Chief Justices S. M. Sikri and U. U. Lalit to become the third judge directly elevated from the bar to become the Chief Justice of India. In his two year tenure so far, Justice Narasimha has been on several constitution benches. For instance, recently a bench that he was part of held that the Delhi government had control over services in the NCT of Delhi and not the Union government. He was also part of the five judge Bench which declared that the Maharashtra Governor’s call for a floor test for Mr. Uddhav Thackeray was illegal. Justice Narasimha is part of the 5 Judge Bench that heard the plea seeking legal recognition of LGBTQIA+ marriages in India as well. The judgement in this case is expected after the summer vacation of the Court.
Advay: Justice Pardiwala will be the Chief Justice in May 2028. He will be the first Chief Justice after current Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud to serve for a tenure of more than two years. Justice Pardiwala hails from the Gujarat High Court and is the fourth Parsi Judge of the Supreme Court so far. Important cases he has been a part of include the EWS reservation scheme where he wrote a separate majority opinion upholding the scheme.
Advay: Well, that brings us to the end of our list. Thank you for joining us. Do visit our website at scobserver.in for more information on the next 8 CJIs. SCO’s Judges page offers detailed profiles of all these Supreme Court judges that we just mentioned and more.
Spandana: And don’t forget to like, share, subscribe and follow us on our Instagram, Facebook and YouTube pages.