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Home / Politics / Policy /  J. S. Khehar appointed as next chief justice of India

New Delhi: Jagdish Singh Khehar has been named the 44th chief justice of India, according to the Press Trust of India.

As per procedure, President Pranab Mukherjee will issue his warrant of the appointment.

Khehar, 64, the first Sikh chief justice of India, will take over from chief justice T.S. Thakur on 4 January and serve until 21 August 2017.

He has been a Supreme Court judge since 2011, before which he was chief justice of the high court of Uttarakhand in 2009 and the high court of Karnataka in 2010.

He has also served as acting chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana high court twice between 2008-09.

Khehar headed the benches that delivered the verdicts in the cases challenging the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act in 2014 and the constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh in 2015.

In both the cases, the majority rulings went against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

Khehar also decided the 2G spectrum misallocation case in 2012 which said that the government must not presume that any natural resource can be dissipated as a matter of largesse, charity, donation or endowment, for private exploitation. He ruled that this can only be done through an auction on valid reciprocity.

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The court then cancelled all existing licenses of 2G spectrum in India and called for fresh auctions.

Other important cases he has heard include the sedition case involving Gujarat Patidar leader Hardik Patel, the issue of foreign funding of political parties and several mining cases.

Khehar will now head the next collegium of the apex court, inheriting a publicly fought tussle between the judiciary and the centre on judicial appointments.

“Khehar is a tough judge, known to be very assertive in court. One can expect him to be vocal on issues like his predecessor," said a senior lawyer who did not wish to be named.

Two of the key challenges for Khehar would be to finalize the memorandum of procedure (MoP) that formalizes the procedure for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary and consolidating the views of other judges in the collegium on transparency and accountability of the process.

Currently, there are eight vacancies in the top court for which the collegium has to make recommendations.

The sanctioned strength of the Supreme Court is 31 judges.

The collegium consists of the apex court’s five senior most judges who make recommendations to the government on appointments to the higher judiciary.

In October, justice Jasti Chelameswar, who is part of the collegium, reportedly refused to attend meetings, alleging that the process was not transparent.

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