Appointment of Chief Justice
From 1950 to 1973, the practice has been to appoint the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court as the chief justice of India. This established convention was violated in 1973 when A N Ray was appointed as the Chief Justice of India by superseding three senior judges. Again in 1977, M U Beg was appointed as the chief justice of India by superseding the then senior- most judge. This discretion of the government was curtailed by the Supreme Court in the Second Judges Case (1993), in which the Supreme Court ruled that the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court should alone be appointed to the office of the chief justice of India.
Removal of Judges
A judge of the Supreme Court can be removed from his Office by an order of the president. The President can issue the removal order only after an address by Parliament has been presented to him in the same session for such removal. The address must be supported by a special majority of each House of Parliament (i.e. a majority of the total membership of that House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting). The grounds of removal are two—proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
The Judges Enquiry Act (1968) regulates the procedure relating to the removal of a judge of the Supreme Court by the process of impeachment:
- A removal motion signed by 100 members (in the case of Lok Sabha) or 50 members (in the case of Rajya Sabha) is to be given to the Speaker/Chairman.
- The Speaker/Chairman may admit the motion or refuse to admit it.
- If it is admitted, then the Speaker/Chairman is to constitute a three-member committee to investigate into the charges.
- The committee should consist of (a) the chief justice or a judge of the Supreme Court, (b) a chief justice of a high court, and (c) a distinguished jurist.
- If the committee finds the judge to be guilty of misbehaviour or suffering from an incapacity, the House can take up the consideration of the motion.
- After the motion is passed by each House of Parliament by special majority, an address is presented to the president for removal of the judge.
- Finally, the president passes an order removing the judge.