Supreme Court gets a full house as Centre clears elevation of 2 new judges
The Supreme Court, with the appointment of the two new judges, is set to function with the full sanctioned strength of 34 judges after a gap of 30 months.
NEW DELHI: The union government on Saturday cleared the elevation of Gauhati high court chief justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Gujarat high court judge Jamshed Burjor Pardiwala to the Supreme Court, paving way for the top court to function with full sanctioned strength of 34 judges after a gap of 30 months.
The union ministry of law and justice issued notifications formalising appointments of justices Dhulia and Pardiwala on Saturday afternoon, in less than 48 hours after the Supreme Court collegium, led by chief justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana, recommended the names.
The appointments shall take the tally of judges in the top court to full sanctioned strength of 34 judges, the highest ever since November 2019 when the Supreme Court worked with a full house.
The Supreme Court collegium, which comprises CJI Ramana, and justices Uday U Lalit, AM Khanwilkar, Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, had in August 2021 cleared a record nine names for appointments in the top court, including justice BV Nagarathna from the Karnataka high court, who can go on to become the country’s first woman CJI in 2027.
Apart from justice Nagarathna, two more women judges, justices Hima Kohli and Bela M Trivedi, were also elevated to the Supreme Court following the collegium’s recommendation, taking the tally of women judges in the top court to four, the highest ever.
The elevation of justice Dhulia will make him the second judge to come to the apex court from the Uttarakhand high court, while justice Pardiwala will be the fourth member of the Parsi community to adorn the Supreme Court bench.
The last elevation of a judge from a minority community happened in February 2017 when justice S Abdul Nazeer was elevated. Justice Nariman, who retired in August 2021, was the last Parsi judge in the Supreme Court.
Justice Pardiwala is in line to become the CJI in May 2028 and will have a tenure of two years and three months. Justice Dhulia will retire in 2025.
Justice Dhulia hails from a remote village in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. A second-generation legal professional, justice Dhulia’s younger brother Tigmanshu Dhulia is a national award-winning film director. He was elevated as a judge of Uttarakhand HC in November 2008, and later became the chief justice of the high court of Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in January 2021. At present, the Supreme Court does not have a judge from the Uttarakhand HC.
Justice Pardiwala is fourth-generation legal professional in the family of lawyers, who chiefly practised in the districts of Valsad and Navsari in Gujarat. He was elevated as a judge in the Gujarat HC in February 2011.
Under the memorandum of procedure for appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and high courts, the recommendations of the collegium are sent to the Union law ministry, which has the option of sending the recommendations back to the collegium for review, but if the collegium resubmits them, it has to approve the names.
During the remaining part of the year, seven Supreme Court judges are set to retire. CJI Ramana is due to demit office on August 26, and is likely to be succeeded by the second senior-most judge, Justice Lalit. Justice Lalit will be at the helm of affairs for less than two-and-a-half months before he demits office on November 8.
Others who will retire in 2022 are justices Khanwilkar (July 29), Rao (June 7), Indira Banerjee (September 23), Vineet Saran (May 10), and Hemant Gupta (October 16).