The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a petition filed by a group of lawyers against elevation of Justice J S Khehar as Chief Justice of India, saying that the plea has become infructuous as the President of India has already cleared his appointment as head of the judiciary and notification has been issued.
The lawyers’ body- National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms- had moved the apex court seeking a stay on the appointment of next CJI, Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar.
The lawyers' body contended in its plea that Justice J Chelameswar, who is now the fourth senior-most judge in the apex court, should be elevated by doing away with seniority rule-- as per which the senior most judge of SC to be appointed as CJI.
The petitioner alleged that Justice Khehar should not be appointed as CJI as he had virtually paved the way for himself to be elevated as CJI by quashing the NJAC Act and reviving collegium system of appointment of judges.
"In other words, while deciding the NJAC case Justice Khehar certainly was deciding a case where his Lordship's own appointment as the CJI was involved - a case of manifest conflict of interest," the petition said.
Justice Chelameswar had given a minority dissent judgement in NJAC case by upholding its constitutional validity and favoured scrapping of collegium system for appointment of judges in higher judiciary.
The petition also argues that Khehar is harsh on the smallest of mistakes by lawyers and openly favors high-profile lawyers.
However, the petition said Justice Khehar was "undoubtedly one of the most upright judges of the Supreme Court" and "nobody could ... point a finger at Justice Khehar when it comes to honesty, integrity and uprightness".
On December 19, President Pranab Mukherjee had cleared the name of Justice Khehar as the next CJI. Justice Khehar to take charge as Chief Justice of India after the present CJI Justice T S Thakur demits office on January 3 next year.