The Supreme Court will soon get five new judges. The collegium headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has recommended the elevation of the Chief Justices of five High Courts. However, even this time, no recommendation has been made for appointing a woman judge to the Supreme Court.
At its meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, the collegium cleared the elevation of the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Ananga Kumar Patnaik; the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Tirath Singh Thakur; the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, Surinder Singh Nijjar; the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, P.D. Dinakaran; and the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, K.S. Radhakrishnan.
With the elevation of Justice Dinakaran, Tamil Nadu will have a representation of two judges, including Justice P. Sathasivam, and Kerala will have three judges, including the CJI and Justice Cyriac Joseph. Karnataka has two judges, while Andhra Pradesh has only one.
Justice Ruma Pal retired in June 2006 and since then there has been no representation for women. It was widely expected that at least one woman judge would be appointed now.
Strength goes up to 28
The present strength of judges is 23 including the CJI. Now the strength will go up to 28.
There was delay in filling the posts owing to non-availability of residential bungalows for Supreme Court judges, consequent to the increase in the sanctioned strength from 26 to 31.
The Centre has now allotted to the ‘Supreme Court pool’ the house used by the former President, K.R. Narayanan, on Prithiviraj Road here. It is to be converted into a guest house for judges and the present guest house on Rajaji Marg is also to be allotted to the Supreme Court pool. As a result, 27 of the 28 judges can now get residential accommodation and one will remain in the guest house until a vacancy arises in the Supreme Court pool.
Justice Patnaik (60), hailing from Orissa, was appointed Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court in March 2005 and he became Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court in October 2005.
Justice Thakur (57) from Jammu and Kashmir was appointed acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court in April 2008. He took over as Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on August 11, 2008. According to present indications of seniority, he will have a chance to become the CJI and remain in the post for about two years.
Justice Nijjar (60) from Punjab was acting Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court from October 3, 2006 to November 28, 2006. He became Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court in March 2007.
Justice Dinakaran (59) became a permanent judge of the Madras High Court in December 1996. He became Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court in August 2008.
Justice Radhakrishnan (60) from Kerala was acting Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court from March 19, 2005 to April 27, 2005; from January 1 to 22, 2006 and from January 24, 2007 to May 17, 2007. Elevated Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in January 2008, he became Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court in September 2008.