Who is a ‘puisne’ judge, and what does the term mean?

Source: The post is based on the article “Who is a ‘puisne’ judge, and what does the term mean?” published in Indian Express on 4th February 2023

What is the News?

Chief Justice of India (CJI) has recently reiterated that the collegium takes into consideration the seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne judges while deciding on recommending judges.

What does Puisne mean?

According to the dictionary, the word puisne has French origins, which means “later born” or younger. 

Puisne is almost always used in the context of judges, and essentially denotes seniority of rank. 

The term puisne judge is used in common law countries to refer to judges who are ranked lower in seniority, i.e., any judge other than the Chief Justice of that court.

Note: Common law is the body of law that is created by judges through their written opinions, rather than through statutes or constitutions (statutory law). The United Kingdom (UK) and the Commonwealth countries, including India, are common law countries.

About Puisne Judge in India

In India, all judges have the same judicial powers, but the Chief Justice is the senior-most judge and has an additional administrative role.

The reference to a puisne judge in India is only used while considering the order of seniority for appointments and elevations to High Courts, but it does not affect a judge’s judicial power.

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