NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is understood to have taken a call to go by convention and recommend the name of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who is the next in seniority to him, to succeed him as the next CJI, highly placed sources said on Saturday.
The sources, however, said there is no clarity on whether the CJI has responded to the letter sent to him by the Centre to recommend the name of his successor.
They said in all likelihood the government will be informed about the recommendation to appoint the next CJI soon.
Justice Misra's tenure as the CJI is coming to an end on October 2.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had recently asked Justice Misra to recommend the name of his successor, setting in motion the process of change of guard in the Supreme Court.
Sources in the Law Ministry had said the letter was delivered to the CJI recently.
Speculation over Justice Gogoi's appointment as the next CJI emerged following an unprecedented press conference by four senior-most judges, including Justice Gogoi, in January this year when they had criticised Justice Misra over various issues, especially the manner of allocation of cases to certain benches.
Justices J Chelameswar (since retired), Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph were among those who addressed the press conference, perhaps a first in the history of Indian judiciary.
As per the Memorandum of Procedure which governs the appointment of members of the higher judiciary, "appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India should be of the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office".
It stipulates that the Law Minister would, at an appropriate time, seek the recommendation of the outgoing Chief Justice of India for the appointment of the next CJI.
Under this process, after receipt of the recommendation of the CJI, the Law Minister puts it before the Prime Minister who advises the President in the matter of appointment.
"Whenever there is any doubt about the fitness of the senior-most Judge to hold the office of the Chief Justice of India, consultation with other Judges. Would be made for the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India," the document states.
Law Minister Prasad had recently said that the government's intention on the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India should not be questioned.
He had also said that when the incumbent names the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court as his successor as per convention, the executive will take a call.
He was responding to a question at the Law Ministry's annual press conference on whether the government would follow the laid-down conventions and procedures to appoint Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the next Chief Justice when incumbent Justice Misra demits office.
"The question is imaginary. As far as the appointment of the Chief Justice of India is concerned, the convention is clear. The sitting chief justice names the senior-most judge (of the top court) as his successor. When the name comes to us, we will discuss it," he had said.