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Qualifications for the Judges

Each judge of the Supreme Court possesses the following essential qualifications:

  1. He is a citizen of India.
  2. He has been, for at least 5 years, a judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or
  3. He has been an advocate of a High Court for at least ten years; or
  4. He is, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist.

Form of oath or affirmation

To be made by the Judges of the Supreme Court:

A person having been appointed Chief Justice (or a Judge) of the Supreme Court shall solemnly affirm that:

  1. He will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established,
  2. That he will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  3. That he will duly and faithfully and to the best of my ability, knowledge and judgment perform the duties of my office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will,
  4. And that he will uphold the Constitution and the laws.

Tenure

Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 65. However, there have been suggestions, including from the judges of the Supreme Court of India, to provide for a fixed term for the judges there including the Chief Justice of India.

 

Removal of a Judge of the Supreme Court

The procedure relating to the removal of a judge of the Supreme Court is regulated by the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, by the process of impeachment. There are two grounds for removal – proved misbehaviour or incapacity.

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 after an address by the Parliament, supported by a special majority of each House of Parliament (that is, 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), has been presented to the President in the same session of Parliament for such a removal.

The step-wise process is:

  1. A removal motion signed by 100 members (in case of Lok Sabha) or 50 members (in case of Rajya Sabha) is to be given to the Speaker/Chairman. (The removal motion can be introduced in any of the two Houses of Parliament).
  2. The Speaker/Chairman may admit and reject the motion.
  3. 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 the Chief Justice or a judge of the Supreme Court, a chief justice of a high court and a distinguished jurist.
  4. If the committee finds the judge to be guilty of the charges (misbehaviour or incapacity), the House in which the motion was introduced, can take up the consideration of the motion.
  5. Once, the House in which removal motion was introduced passes it with special majority, it goes to the second House which also has to pass it with special majority.
  6. After the motion is passed by each House of the Parliament by special majority, an address is presented to the President for removal of the judge.
  7. Finally, the President passes an order removing the judge.

So far, no judge of the Supreme Court has been impeached. The only case where an impeachment motion was initiated and the Inquiry Committee found the judge guilty, was of Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court (1991-1993). But, this motion was defeated in the Lok Sabha.

Salaries of Supreme Court Judges

There shall be paid to the Chief Justice of India, by way of salary, one lakh rupees

A Judge of the Supreme Court shall be paid ninety thousand rupees.

Pension payable to Judges a pension shall be payable in accordance with the provisions of Part I of the Schedule to a Judge of the Supreme Court on his retirement if, but only if,

  1. He has attained the age of sixty-five years.
  2. His retirement is medically certified to be necessitated by ill-health.

Acting Chief Justice

The Chief Justice of India and the Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President under clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution.

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.

The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs would, at the appropriate time, seek the recommendation of the outgoing Chief Justice of India for the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India.

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 as envisaged in Article 124 (2) of the Constitution would be made for appointment of the next Chief Justice of India. After receipt of the recommendation of the Chief Justice of India, the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs will put up the recommendation to the Prime Minister who will advise the President in the matter of appointment.

Appointment of Ad Hoc Judges

Article 127 of the Constitution provides that if at any time there should not a quorum of Judges of the Supreme Court available to hold or continue any session of the Court the Chief Justice of India may, with the previous consent of the President and after consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned request, in writing, a Judge of a High Court duly qualified for appointment as a Judge of the Supreme Court to attend, for such period as may be necessary, the sittings of the Supreme Court .

Whenever the necessity for such an appointment arises, the Chief Justice of India will consult the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned whether a Judge is available to attend the sittings of the Supreme Court.

The Chief Justice of India will then communicate to the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs the name of the Judge and the period for which he will be required to attend the sittings of the Supreme Court, certifying that the release of the Judge has been agreed to by the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned and the Chief Minister of the State.

The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs will put up the recommendation to the Prime Minister, who will advise the President as to the person to be appointed to attend the sittings of the Supreme Court. As soon as the President gives his consent to the appointment, the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Justice will

  1. Iinform the Chief Justice of India, who will formally request the Judge concerned, in writing, to attend the sittings of the Supreme Court as an ad hoc Judge
  2. Announce the appointment and issue the necessary notification in the Gazette of India.

Retired Judges

Under Article 128 of the Constitution, the Chief Justice of India may, at any time, with the previous consent of the President, request any person who has held the office of a Judge of the Supreme Court to sit and act as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

Whenever, the necessity for such an appointment arises, the Chief Justice of India will informally sound the retired Judge, whom he proposes to recommend, as to the latter’s willingness to serve and will there upon communicate to the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs the name of the Judge and the period for which he will be required to sit and act as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

If the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs considers it desirable to bring any point to the notice of the Chief Justice of India or to suggest some other name, he may by personal correspondence convey his suggestions to the Chief Justice of India.

On obtaining the views of the Chief Justice of India finally the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs will put up the proposal to the Prime Minister who will advise the President as to the person to be appointed to sit and act as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

As soon as the President gives his consent to the appointment, the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Justice will inform the Chief Justice of India and will announce and issue the necessary notification in the Gazette of India.

Seat of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in any such place or places, as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the president from time to time, appoint.

Procedure of the Court

The Supreme Court can, with the approval of the president, make rules for regulating generally the practice and procedure of the Court.

The Constitutional cases or references made by the President under Article 143 are decided by a Bench consisting of at least five judges.

All other cases are usually decided by a bench consisting of not less than three judges. The judgements are delivered by the open court.

All judgements are by majority vote but if differing, then judges can give dissenting judgements or opinions.

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