Collegium recommends two more new judges for Supreme Court

The court has seven vacancies now. It has a sanctioned judicial strength of 34. The collegium’s December 13, 2022 recommendation on Justices Pankaj Mithal, Sanjay Karol, P.V. Sanjay Kumar and Ahsanuddin Amanullah is still pending with the government.

Updated - January 31, 2023 10:42 pm IST

Published - January 31, 2023 08:02 pm IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court Collegium has recommended Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal (left) and Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Aravind Kumar for appointment as apex court judges. Photos: Allahabad and Gujarat High Court sites

The Supreme Court Collegium has recommended AllahabadHigh Court Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal (left) and Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Aravind Kumar for appointment as apex court judges. Photos: Allahabad and Gujarat High Court sites

The five-member Supreme Court collegium led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Tuesday recommended to the government Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court Rajesh Bindal and Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Aravind Kumar for appointment as apex court judges.

The court has seven vacancies now. It has a sanctioned judicial strength of 34. The collegium’s December 13, 2022 recommendation on Justices Pankaj Mithal, Sanjay Karol, P.V. Sanjay Kumar and Ahsanuddin Amanullah is still pending with the government.

“Where are the judges… let us wait for some more judges,” Chief Justice Chandrachud was heard telling a lawyer who had sought an early hearing of his case during the mentioning hour on Tuesday.

In its four-page resolution, the collegium has given no room for the government to tinker with seniority among the seven judges by bifurcating their names or by appointing one over the other.

“The names recommended earlier by the collegium by its resolution dated December 13, 2022 shall have precedence over the two names [Justices Bindal and Kumar] recommended presently for appointment to the Supreme Court. Therefore, the appointments of five judges recommended on December 13, 2022 should be notified separately and earlier in point of time before the two judges recommended by this resolution,” the five-member collegium which also includes Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, K.M. Joseph, M.R. Shah and Ajay Rastogi said categorically.

Unanimous resolution

While the resolution of the collegium with regard to the appointment of Justice Bindal was “unanimous”, Justice Joseph was of the opinion that Justice Aravind Kumar could be considered at a later stage.

On the choice of Justice Bindal, the collegium reasoned that he was number two in the All India seniority of High Court judges and was the seniormost judge from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

“While recommending his name, the collegium has taken into consideration the fact that the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which is one of the largest High Courts with a sanctioned strength of 85 judges, is not adequately represented on the Bench of the Supreme Court. The High Court of Punjab and Haryana is a common High Court for two States,” the collegium noted.

As of now, Justice Bindal is due to retire on April 15, 2023. If he is appointed to the Supreme Court, he would continue to the age of 65.

Justice Aravind Kumar is number 26 in the All-India seniority of High Court judges. He is second seniormost judge from the Karnataka High Court. There are currently two Supreme Court judges whose parent High Court is Karnataka.

The collegium said it had recommended the two names for apex court judgeships after a “meaningful discussion on and assessment of their judicial acumen” through examination of their judgments and careful evaluation of their merit, integrity and competence.

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