NEW DELHI: On July 25, when India got its 14th President, Ram Nath Kovind, it was the country’s 44th Chief Justice who administered him the oath of office.
With a tenure as short as 198 days, J S Khehar emerged to be one of those lucky Chief Justices of India (CJI) whose name got recorded in the nation’s history books as he performed the coveted constitutional duty.
India’s first President Rajendra Prasad was the only head of state to have held office for two terms. He was sworn in by two CJIs.
Justice Khehar is not the only one who was part of a presidential swearing-in in his short tenure. CJI B N Kirpal in his 186-day term administered oath to President A P J Abdul Kalam.
Y V Chandrachud was the longest serving Chief Justice of India, with a tenure from February 22, 1978 to November 11, 1985. He administered the oath to President Giani Zail Singh.
The huge imbalance in the ratio of number of presidents to number of CJIs is attributed to the lack of a fixed tenure for the CJIs.
Despite recommendations from the Law Commission of India that CJIs should have a minimum tenure of two years, an analysis of the future CJIs based on their seniority reveals that no judge would be able to stay there beyond a year-and-a-half.
In the next five years, India will see seven CJIs. CJI Khehar’s tenure will get over by August 28.
The line of succession till 2022 will also see the youngest Justice D Y Chandrachud as the Chief Justice. Interestingly, he too will follow his father and former CJI Y V Chandrachud by becoming one of the longest-serving CJI for nearly two years in recent past.
Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 65.