Chief Justice of India

Chief Justice of India
Term Until 65 years
Salary₹ 280,000 (monthly)
Appointed by – President of India
Current Chief JusticeNV Ramana (48th)

The Chief Justice of India presides over the judicial system in India and the Supreme Court of India. He/she has administrative powers which are defined in Article 145 of the Constitution of India and the Supreme Court Rules of Procedure of 1966.

In accordance with this, the CJI allocates all work to the 30 other judges who are bound to refer the matter back to him/her (for re-allocation) in any case where they require it to be looked into by a larger bench of more judges.

H. J. Kania was the first Chief Justice of India after the establishment of the Supreme Court of India in 1950. Before that, he served as the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of India.

Justice N.V. Ramana is currently appointed as the 48th Chief Justice of India.

Basic Facts

  • First Chief Justice of India – Sir Maurice Gwyer (1937).
  • First Chief Justice of Independent India – Justice Harilal Jekisundas Kania (1950).
  • First Woman Judge of the Supreme Court of India Fathima Beevi (1989).
    • First Woman Judge in India Fathima Beevi.
    • Second Woman Judge of the Supreme Court of India Sujata V. Manohar (1994).
  • First Chief Justice of India to serve as Acting President of the country – Justice Hidayatullah (1969).
    • Acting President for the Shortest Period – Justice Hidayatullah (1969).
  • First Chief Justice of India from the Sikh community Jagdish Singh Khehar.
  • First Malayali Chief Justice of India Justice K.G. Balakrishnan (37th).
  • First Chief Justice of Supreme Court to become Governor of a state (Kerala) in India – P. Sathasivam (40th).
  • Longest-serving Chief Justice of India – Y. V. Chandrachud (2696 days; 7 years;16th).
  • Shortest-serving Chief Justice of India – Kamal Narain Singh (17 days; November 21 1991 – December 12, 1991; 22nd).


The Constitution of India does not have any provision for the criteria and procedure for appointing the Chief Justice of India. It simply states in Article 124(1) of the Indian Constitution "there shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India."

However, Article 126 details the appointment of acting CJI in case of the absence of a supreme court Judge.


Article 124(3) of the Indian Constitution clarifies the eligibility criteria for CJI:

  • He/She should be a citizen of India.
    • has been for at least five years a Judge of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or
    • has been for at least ten years an advocate of a High Court or of two or more such Courts in succession; or
    • is, in the opinion of the President, a distinguished jurist.

The Chief Justice of India is traditionally appointed by the outgoing Chief Justice of India on the day of his retirement based on the seniority list (not age-based).

Seniority is determined by:

  1. The date at which the judge was appointed to the Supreme Court.
  2. If two judges are selected to the Supreme Court on the same day, the first sworn-in judge is given priority.
  3. If a tie happens in case both the judges were sworn in on the same day, then the years of experience in the high court are taken into account.
  4. A judge from a bench is prioritized over a judge from the bar.
(This convention was broken twice in history. One in 1973, when Justice A. N. Ray was appointed superseding the seniority of 3 other judges, and another case happened in 1977 when Justice Mirza Hameedullah Beg was appointed as the CJI instead of Justice Hans Raj Khanna who was his senior.)

This seniority list recommended by the Collegium is then sent to the Union Law Ministry, which is again forward to the Prime Minister before it finally reaches the President of India.

It is important to note that the Central Govt has no role in recommendations on the appointment of the CJI.

It is then the President of India who appoints the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India.

Another function vested in the CJI is the role of Acting President of India in case of the death of the President. He is also the ex-officio Chancellor of most autonomous law schools in India.


Article 124 (4 -5) of the Constitution details the procedure for the removal of a judge of the Supreme Court as well as the other chief justices.

The President can remove a CJI or any other judge after the resolution for impeachment is passed in both the houses of the Parliament on the grounds of proved misbehavior or incapacity.

Full list of Chief Justices of Supreme Court in India (1950-2021)

So far, there have been 48 Chief Justices of India since 1950. The complete list is as follows:

Sl. No.Name Period of office
1.H. J. KaniaJanuary 26, 1950 – November 6, 1951
2.M. Patanjali SastriNovember 7, 1951 – January 3, 1954
3.Mehr Chand MahajanJanuary 4, 1954 – December 22, 1954
4.Bijan Kumar MukherjeaAugust, 1947 – November, 1951
5.S.R. DasAugust, 1947 – November, 1951
6.B. P. SinhaOctober, 1959 – January, 1964
7.P.B. GajendragadkarFebruary, 1964 – March, 1966
8.A.K. SarkarMarch, 1966 – June, 1966
9.K. Subba RaoJune, 1966 – April, 1967
10.K.N. WanchooApril, 1967 – February, 1968
11.M. Hidayatullah February 25, 1968 – December 16, 1970
12.J.C. ShahDecember, 1970 – January, 1971
13.S.M. SikriJanuary, 1971 – April, 1973
14.A.N. Ray April, 1973 – January, 1977
15.M.H. Beg January, 1977 – February, 1978
16.Y.V. Chandrachud February 22, 1978 – July 11, 1985
17.P. N. Bhagwati July, 1985 – December, 1986
18.R.S. Pathak December, 1986 – June, 1989
19.E.S. Venkataramiah June, 1989 – December, 1989
20.Sabyasachi Mukharjee December, 1989 – September, 1990
21.Ranganath Mishra September, 1990 – November, 1991
22.Kamal Narain Singh November 25, 1991 – December 12, 1991
23.M.H. Kania December, 1991 – November, 1992
24.L.M. Sharma November, 1992 – October, 1994
25.M.N. VenkatachaliahFebruary 1993 – October 1994
26.Aziz Mushabbar Ahmadi October, 1994 – March, 1997
27.J.S. Verma March, 1997 – January, 1998
28.M.M. Punchhi January, 1998 – October, 1998
29.A.S. Anand October, 1998 – November, 2001
30.S. P. Bharucha November, 2001 – May, 2002
31.Bhupinder Nath Kripal May, 2002 – November, 2002
32.G.B Pattanaik November, 2002 – December, 2002
33.V.N. Khare December, 2002 – May, 2004
34.S. Rajendra Babu May, 2004 – June, 2004
35.R. C. Lahoti June, 2004 – 31 October, 2005
36.Y. K. Sabharwal November, 2005 – January, 2007
37.K.G. Balakrishnan January 15, 2007 – May 11, 2010
38.S. H. Kapadia May, 2010 – September, 2012
39.Altamas Kabir September, 2012 – July, 2013
40.P. Sathasivam July 19, 2013 – April 26, 2014
41.Rajendra Mal Lodha April, 2014 – September, 2014
42.H. L. DattuSeptember, 2014 – December, 2015
43.T. S. Thakur December, 2015 – January, 2017
44.Jagdish Singh Khehar January, 2017 – August 2017
45.Dipak Misra August 2017 – October 2018
46.Ranjan Gogoi 2 October 2018 – 17 November 2019
47.Sharad Arvind Bobde 18 November 2019 – April, 2021
48.N.V. RamanaApril 6, 2021 – Incumbent


  • The first Judge against whom a motion of impeachment was introduced in the Parliament – Justice V. Ramaswami.
  • Union Minister of Law & Justice – Ravi Shankar Prasad.