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The Informal ConstitutionUnwritten Criteria in Selecting Judges for the Supreme Court of India$
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Abhinav Chandrachud

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198098560

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198098560.001.0001

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The Judges Cases

The Judges Cases

(p.71) 2 The Judges Cases
The Informal Constitution

Abhinav Chandrachud

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the political developments that led to the present system of appointing judges to the Supreme Court of India, under which the five most senior judges of the court (including the Chief Justice) appoint Supreme Court judges. The chapter begins by analyzing the “seniority norm” on the Supreme Court– its historical origins on the High Courts, and two highly political derogations from the norm which precipitated the court’s subsequent usurpation of the power to appoint judges. This chapter discusses political attempts to tamper with the composition of the judiciary, and the Supreme Court’s responses to these attempts – the three Judges Cases. It is demonstrated that this development, that is, the court’s usurpation of the power to appoint judges, coincided in time with the weakening of political power at the center.

Keywords:   Judges Cases, seniority norm, collegium, supersession, emergency, independence of the judiciary

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