Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, the first Sikh Chief Justice of India (CGI), has taken over from former Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur who completed his 13-month tenure on January 3rd, 2017. He is the 44th Chief Justice of India and the first CJI from the Sikh community. He would have tenure of little over seven months. On 19 December, 2016 India’s President Pranab Mukherjee had cleared his name as the next CJI.
An administrative and Constitutional law expert, Justice Khehar has already made his mark on Indian jurisprudence with several landmark judgments, such as the striking down of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act (NJAC Act) which gave rise to the much spoken about rift between the Centre and the judiciary in recent times. However, Justice Khehar’s single-minded commitment to justice is best exemplified in his lambasting of the government in the high profile 2G scam case. When the Government of India (GoI) filed a Presidential reference before the Supreme Court, Justice Khehar gave a separate concurring opinion in which he warned that the government should not be under erroneous impression that it is not necessary to allocate natural resources through auction. Justice Khehar also headed a bench which recently gave a significant verdict holding that the principal of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has to be made applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as the regulars.
Justice Khehar, son of a Kenyan immigrant, arrived in India with his family, when his father decided to return to his family roots. Still in school at the time, Khekar showed great capacity for academia and later became a gold-medallist from Panjab University. There is no concerns that the Indian judicial system with evolve to great heights, under the enigmatic Justice J S Khehar’s able guidance and vision.