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Report No. 80

7.9. Principle of seniority.-

We feel that the principle of seniority should be observed in the appointment to the office of the Chief Justice. Past experience tells us that whenever there has been a departure from this principle, the appointment has roused considerable controversy. It has thus affected the image of the office of Chief justice. The vesting of unbridled power in the executive to depart from the principle of seniority in the matter of appointment to the office of Chief Justice is liable to be abused. It is also likely to make inroads into the independence of the judiciary and the approach of the judges.

In case the Government considers it proper in some individual case to depart from the principle of seniority for appointment to the post of Chief Justice, in such an event, in our opinion, the matter should be referred by the Government to a panel consisting of all the sitting Supreme Court Judges. The principle of seniority should be departed from only if the above panel finds sufficient cause for such a course. In case of difference of opinion, the decision of the majority shall be taken to be the decision of the panel.



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