Four new judges to the Supreme Court were sworn in on Friday by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur taking the apex court’s strength to 29, with two slots still vacant.
The top court’s collegium headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur recommended last week the names of justice AM Khanwilkar, justice DY Chandrachud, justice Ashok Bhushan and the former additional solicitor general L Nageswara Rao for elevation as SC judges.
These appointments to the top court assume significance as five more vacancies are due to occur in the SC later this year. The judges due to retire include justice FMI Kalifulla (July), justice V Gopala Gowda and justice C Nagappan (October), justice Anil R Dave and justice Shiva Kirti Singh (November).
Any delay in appointment of judges to the SC can reduce the court’s strength to 20 at the end of this year.
Last month, CJI Thakur had almost broken down while talking about judicial vacancies and the problem of backlog. He blasted the government for not implementing the Law Commission’s 1987 recommendations that required the judges’ strength to be increased to 40,000.
There are only 21,000 sanctioned posts of judges and 4,000 of these posts are vacant.
Here is the brief profile of the newly-appointed judges in SC:
Born in Pune, 58-year-old Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar is the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh high court. Before being appointed to this position on November 23, 2013, Khanwilkar was the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh high court. He was appointed as an additional judge of the Bombay HC in 2000 and confirmed as a permanent judge in 2002.
Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud was born in November 1959 to Yeshawant Vishnu Chandrachud, the 16th Chief Justice of India. He obtained an LLM degree and completed his doctorate in judicial sciences from Harvard University. He has had a successful career as a lawyer and was appointed a judge of Bombay HC before being sworn in as Chief Justice of Allahabad HC in 2013.
Fifty nine-year-old Ashok Bhushan was sworn in as the 31st Chief Justice of the Kerala high court in March 2015. Born in Uttar Pradesh’s Jaunpur in 1956, Bhushan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in arts before obtaining a law degree in 1979. He worked as an advocate in the Allahabad HC before being elevated as a permanent judge of the same HC in 2001.
L Nageswara Rao
The only lawyer of the four recommendations, Lavu Nageswara Rao is a former additional solicitor general. He studied law in his hometown Guntur and practised as an advocate in the Andhra Pradesh high court before moving to Delhi to practise at the Supreme Court. At present, he is a senior advocate.