The Supreme Court Collegium led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said it took “extensive deliberations and discussions” among themselves and their colleagues to unanimously resolve to recommend four names for elevation as judges to the apex court.
Resolutions of the five-member Collegium published by the Supreme Court on Wednesday revealed that Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, Justice Hemant Gupta; Gujarat High Court Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy; Patna High Court Chief Justice Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah; and Tripura High Court Chief Justice Ajay Rastogi were finally decided after concluding that they were “more deserving and suitable in all respects than other Chief Justices and senior puisne judges of High Courts for being appointed as judges of the Supreme Court.
In the combined High Court seniority list, Justices Gupta, Reddy, Shah and Rastogi stand at serial number four, five, 17 and 25, respectively.
The Collegium of the first five seniormost judges of the Supreme Court — Chief Justice Gogoi, Justices Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph, A.K. Sikri and S.A. Bobde —said another prime consideration for zeroing in on the four names were that the High Courts of Punjab and Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan have remained unrepresented in the Supreme Court since long.
Justice Gupta’s parent High Court is Punjab and Haryana while that of Justice Shah is Gujarat and that of Justice Rastogi is Rajasthan. Justice Reddy was elevated as a judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, his parent High Court, in December 2002.
“While considering the name of Mr. Justice R. Subhash Reddy, the Collegium has taken into consideration the fact that at present there is no Judge in the Supreme Court from the State of Telangana and he belongs to the State of Telangana,” the Collegium noted.
If the Collegium’s recommendation of the four judges is approved by the government, the judicial strength in the top court will rise to 28, that is, just three short of the sanctioned 31 judges.
In separate resolutions, the Collegium of Chief Justice Gogoi, Justices Lokur and Kurian recommended several transfers of four judges as chief justices of Allahabad, Madhya Pradesh, Patna and Tripura High Courts.
A Collegium of the seniormost three judges recommends the transfer of High Court judges as per the Memorandum of Procedure.
Justice Govind Mathur has been recommended to take over as the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, the largest High Court in the country. The incumbent Chief Justice, Justice D.B. Bhosale, retired on October 23.
Since Justice Hemant Gupta has been recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court, the Collegiums recommended Justice S.K. Seth as the Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. Justice Seth has a tenure of less than a year and is due to retire on June 2019.
Similarly, following Justice Shah’s recommendation to the Supreme Court, the Collegium has recommended Justice A.P. Sathi as the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court.
With Justice Rastogi also recommended for Supreme Court, the Collegium recommended Justice Sanjay Karol as the Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court.
The Collegium repatriated several High Court judges to their parent High Courts. They are Justice Nirmaljit Kaur to Punjab and Haryana, Justice Pavankumar B Bajanthri to Karnataka, Justice Satrughana Pujahari to Orissa and Justice Sujit Narayan Prasad to Jharkhand.