A petition filed by a group of lawyers opposing the elevation of Justice JS Khehar as next the Chief Justice of India was termed by the Supreme Court on Friday as “virtually infructuous”, observing that the President of India has already issued a notification in this regard.
“Since the notification appointing Justice JS Khehar as the next Chief Justice of India has already been issued, the petition has virtually become infructuous,” a bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and L Nageswara Rao said.
“There is nothing left in this petition as the President of India has issued the notification appointing Justice Khehar as the next CJI. Nothing is left in this now. If you want, we can allow you to withdraw the petition,” the bench said.
However, the brief hearing witnessed an altercation among the members of the lawyers’ body as its vice president urged the apex court to list the matter for hearing on December 30, while the others urged the bench for liberty to file a plea afresh.
To this, the bench observed, “You are fighting among yourselves”.
The vice president of the petitioner, National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms, requested the bench that there was something which they wanted to argue and he would call for a general body meeting of the members to decide on these aspects.
“But nothing remains in this petition now,” the bench said.
Some members of the lawyers’ body told the bench that there was no denial that the petition has become infructuous, so they should be given a liberty to file a fresh plea.
The bench noted in its order that the notification appointing Justice Khehar as the next CJI has been issued on December 19.
On December 19, President Pranab Mukherjee had cleared the name of Justice Khehar as the next CJI. The present CJI Justice TS Thakur demits office on January 3 next year.
In its plea, the lawyers’ body has said that instead of justice Khehar, justice J Chelameshwar, who is now the fourth senior-most judge in the apex court, should be elevated as he had given a dissenting view when the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) was struck down by a five-judge constitution bench headed by justice Khehar.