In an unprecedented decision that would go against a long-standing convention, Chief Justice S A Bobde has scheduled Supreme Court collegium meetings on Thursday even after the President appointed Justice N V Ramana, the senior-most SC judge, as CJI designate.
CJI Bobde will retire on April 23. Justice Ramana was appointed on Tuesday as the next CJI and will take oath on April 24. It is a convention that once the President appoints a CJI-designate, all files get routed through the next CJI and the incumbent refrains from holding collegium meetings to recommend appointment of judges to the SC or HCs, appointment of CJs or transfers of HC judges.
Though CJI Bobde has convened collegium meetings, there is no guarantee that recommendations for appointment of people as SC judges, if at all made, would be honoured by the Union government. Sources in the law ministry said the government may not accept the recommendations made by the collegium headed by CJI Bobde in breach of convention.
Justice Bobde took oath as CJI on November 18, 2019, and will retire after a tenure of one year and five months. Though many collegium meetings were held, differences of opinion among the CJI and member judges — Justices Ramana, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and A M Khanwilkar — prevented the CJI from recommending even a single name for appointment as SC judge.
As a result, the oldest vacancy in the SC, caused by Justice Ranjan Gogoi's retirement on November 17, 2019, has not yet been filled.