The Supreme Court will soon get one more woman judge — Justice Ranjana Desai of the Bombay High Court — with the collegium of judges clearing her name for elevation along with two others.
In the apex court's sanctioned strength of 31 judges, Justice Gyan Sudha Misra is at present the only woman judge. With Justice Desai's appointment, the number will go up to two.
Meeting recently, the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia also cleared Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court J.S. Khehar for elevation.
Sources told The Hindu that the Union Law Ministry has received these proposals from the Supreme Court and the process of appointment is expected to be completed in two to three weeks.
Justice Ranjana Desai was made a permanent judge of the Bombay High Court in 1998. Her recent judgments include one on limiting noise pollution during the Ganapati festival and upholding the death penalty on Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist Ajmal Kasab
The present strength of judges in the Supreme Court is 28 and six judges are due to retire in the next two months upon reaching the age of 65. Justice V.S. Sirpurkar who hails from Maharashtra will retire on August 21; Justice H.S. Bedi on September 4; Justice Mukundakam Sharma on September 17; Markandey Katju on September 19; Justice J.M. Panchal on October 5 and Justice R.V. Raveendran on October 14.
Maharashtra's strength intact
At present Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice H.L. Gokhale and Justice Sirpurkar hail from Maharashtra. With the appointment of Justice Ranjana Desai soon after the retirement of Justice Sirpurkar, the State will continue to have three judges.
Justice Mukhopadhaya will represent Jharkhand and Justice Khehar will represent Punjab (as a replacement for Justice Bedi) and there is chance of his becoming the Chief Justice of India. In that event he will be the first person from the Sikh community to adorn the highest judicial office in the country.
The representation of Punjab will remain intact at two judges.
Seniority not the criterion
Though appointments to the Supreme Court are not made on the basis of seniority or on regional considerations, yet, as per convention, every State is represented by at least one judge at any point of time.
However, Justice B. Sudershan Reddy, who hailed from Andhra Pradesh, retired on July 7 and that State is unrepresented after his retirement.