SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — India will get its first Sikh Chief Justice in the new year after Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar is officially sworn in on Jan. 4 as India’s 44th Chief Justice.

Khehar’s appointment as India’s next Chief Justice was spearheaded by incumbent T S Thakur, who wrote to the Union government Tuesday with his recommendation. The shift follows the established precedent of a departing Chief Justice bring replaced by the most senior member on the court.

In his letter to law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Justice Thakur described Justice Khehar as a competent and worthy successor.

The appointment of the 64-year-old Khehar means individuals from India’s Sikh community will now have occupied three of the most important positions in the democracy’s structure — President Giani Zail Singh, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Justice. Khehar was first appointed as a Supreme Court judge on September 13, 2011.

Khehar has experienced many unprecedented moments during the tenure of his judgeship — he famously led a bench that made history by restoring the Congress government headed by Nabam Tuki to power in Arunachal Pradesh, this after it was dismissed and President’s Rule was imposed.

According to a report in Hindustan Times, lawyers and former judges of the Punjab and Haryana high court have described him as a hardworking and competent lawyer, a self-made person, who was destined to scale new heights.

Khehar presided over the constitution bench that junked the NJAC as unconstitutional holding that it intruded upon the independence of the judiciary. The NJAC was a body being set up through a constitutional amendment by Parliament to select judges for the Supreme Court and HCs.

“Judiciary is mandated to shield all persons, citizens and non-citizens alike, against discrimination and abuse of State power. Liberty, equality and dignity of the citizen have flourished substantially in India due to the pro-active role of the judiciary in the country,” Khehar was quoted as saying on the matter.