The Supreme Court will soon get one more judge — Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla — with the collegium of judges clearing his name for elevation.
Justice Kalifulla, who hails from Tamil Nadu, will be the second judge to represent the Madras High Court, after Justice P. Sathasivam.
In August 2009, the collegium recommended the elevation of Justice P.D. Dinakaran of Tamil Nadu, who was then the Chief Justice of Karnataka, along with four other High Court Chief Justices. But his elevation did not materialise.
The collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia, at its meeting last week considered the elevation of Justice Kalifulla, though he became a permanent judge of the Madras High Court only in March 2000, and there are several other Chief Justices much senior to him.
Justice Kalifulla was posted as a judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in February 2011. He became its acting Chief Justice in April 2011 and permanent Chief Justice in September that year. He will have little over four years in tenure as Supreme Court judge and will be the third Muslim Judge, after Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Aftab Alam.
His appointment is expected to materialise in two-three weeks.
The Supreme Court now has 25 judges, against the sanctioned strength of 31. Though appointments are not made on the basis of seniority or regional considerations, as per convention, every State is represented by at least one judge at any point of time.
After the retirement of Justice Cyriac Joseph, there is no representation for Christians. Similarly, after the retirement in 2010 of the former Chief Justice of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, there is no representation for Scheduled Castes. Before Justice Balakrishnan, Justice K. Ramaswamy represented the community, retiring as he did in 1997.
The present strength of judges is represented as follows: three each from the Bombay, Delhi and Patna High Courts; two each from Rajasthan, Punjab and Orissa and one each from the High Courts of Calcutta, Madras, Gujarat, Allahabad, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand.
There is no representation for Assam or the northeast after the retirement of Justice Mukundakam Sharma in July last. Though the Punjab and Haryana High Court is represented, there is no representation for Haryana as such, and a bigger High Court like the Allahabad High Court has only one representation.
With Justice Dalveer Bhandari likely to be appointed a judge of the International Court of Justice in May first week, the strength will come down once again to 25.