Collegium likely to finalise four names as judges of SC
The Supreme Court collegium is expected to discuss and finalize four names for appointment as judges in the apex court, which currently has three vacancies.
The Supreme Court collegium is expected to hold extensive deliberations this week to zero in on four names for appointment as judges in the apex court.
According to people familiar with the matter, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud has sounded out his fellow judges in the collegium about a discussion on a bundle of names being considered for elevation to the top court. Apart from the CJI, the collegium in the Supreme Court presently includes justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant.
The Supreme Court, which has a sanctioned strength of 34 judges, is short of three judges. With justice Krishna Murari set to retire on July 8, the vacancy will rise to four by end of the week. Those in the know of the matter told HT that the CJI is keen on the collegium making recommendations for all the four names together, and thus discussions have been scheduled in the current week to finalise the names. Judgments authored by those shortlisted in the zone of consideration have also been circulated among the members of the collegium for a meaningful discussion on and assessment of their judicial acumen, those cited above added.
In making recommendations of names to the Union government, the collegium is supposed to take into account a variety of factors, including all-India seniority of judges, merit and integrity, representation of high courts, regional representation, and diversity. The plurality of factors, as stated by a collegium resolution on March 31, added that the judges’ selection body in the apex court also considers appointing persons from marginalised and backward segments of society and focuses on gender diversity and representation of minorities.
The six-week summer vacation in the Supreme Court saw the composition of the collegium undergoing a change with the entry of justices Gavai and Kant, after two senior judges demitted office during the summer break. Justices KM Joseph and Ajay Rastogi, who were part of the previous collegium, retired on June 16 and 17 respectively.
Interestingly, the present collegium has one sitting CJI and three other members who are in line to become CJIs -- justices Khanna, Gavai and Kant will over time become the CJI. Justice Khanna will succeed CJI Chandrachud on November 11, 2024 for a period of six months. Justice Gavai is set to take the helm in May 2025, and will be the CJI for a little over six months. He will be followed by justice Kant who is set to become the 53rd CJI in November 2025 for a tenure of around 15 months.
Justice V Ramasubramanian was the last judge to retire from the Supreme Court. He demitted office on June 29.
Andhra Pradesh high court chief justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and senior advocate KV Viswanathan are the latest appointments as Supreme Court judges. The Centre had on May 18 cleared their appointments, two days after the Collegium recommended their names. The quick appointments had come within hours of Arjun Ram Meghwal taking over as the law minister, replacing Kiren Rijiju, who was assigned the earth sciences portfolio.
Justice Viswanathan is in line to take over as the CJI in August 2030 and will have a tenure till May 25, 2031. He will succeed justice JB Pardiwala to take the helm and will be only the fourth lawyer to head the judiciary.
While the Supreme Court appointments have witnessed some pace of late, a raft of recommendations and reiterations for the appointment and transfer of high court judges have remained pending with the Centre for months together without any response. The collegium’s resolution on transfer of some judges from the high courts of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat have been in limbo for more than seven months.
Appointments of advocates Saurabh Kirpal, R John Sathyan and Somasekhar Sundaresan as judges in the high courts of Delhi, Madras and Bombay respectively, have also been in a state of uncertainty for more than eight months despite reiterations by the collegium.