Supreme Court Collegium on mission mode to fill vacancies

A view of the Supreme Court of India. File   | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium

The Supreme Court Collegium, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana, is proceeding with staggering speed to fill the vacancies and strengthen the judiciary as seen in a latest slew of recommendations, which include eight new Chief Justices to High Courts, the transfer of five High Court Chief Justices and the shuffling of 28 High Court judges across the country.

It has been reliably learnt that the eight High Court judges recommended for elevation as Chief Justices of High Courts include Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court Justice Rajesh Bindal as Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court.

Among the five Chief Justices learnt to have been recommended for transfer is Justice A.A. Kureshi of the Tripura High Court. He has been recommended for transfer to the Rajasthan High Court as its Chief Justice. He was in the middle of a prolonged stalemate between the Collegium and the government over his initial appointment as Madhya Pradesh High Court Chief Justice about two years ago.

The past one month has seen the Collegium recommend over 100 judicial appointments, several transfers and elevations of judges, advocates and Chief Justices. The Collegium began its work on a historic note with the successful recommendation of nine new judges to the Supreme Court that were quickly approved by the government. Among the nine was Justice B.V. Nagarathna, who may become India’s first woman CJI in 2027. This accomplishment was followed by the recommendation of 68 names to various High Courts, significantly, in one go.

Back-to-back meetings

The back-to-back meetings and recommendations in the past one month indicate the resolve within the Collegium to get the better of the perennial problem of vacancies, especially in the High Courts. Besides the CJI, the Collegium has Justices U.U. Lalit, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao.

Besides Justice Bindal, the other judges recommended for elevation as Chief Justices of High Courts are Justice Prakash Srivastava for Calcutta, Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra for the Andhra Pradesh High Court, Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi for Karnataka, Justice Satish Chandra Sharma for Telangana, Justice Ranjit V. More for Meghalaya, Justice Aravind Kumar for Gujarat and Justice R.V. Malimath for Madhya Pradesh.

This is probably the largest number of judges recommended by the Collegium for elevation as Chief Justices of High Courts.

Other than Justice Kureshi, the other Chief Justices of High Courts recommended for transfer include Andhra Pradesh Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami to Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh Chief Justice Mohd. Rafiq to Himachal Pradesh, Chief Justice Indirajit Mohanty of the Rajasthan High Court to Tripura and Meghalaya Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder to Sikkim.

Ongoing process: CJI

Earlier this month, Chief Justice Ramana described judicial appointments as an “ongoing process”. He said the Collegium intended to “live up to the herculean task of filling up 41% of vacancies existing in all the High Courts”.

Commending the “young and dynamic” Law Minister, Kiren Rijuju, who was present on the dais at a function organised by the Bar Council of India, the CJI had indicated that “in another one month we expect 90% of the vacancies filled in this country”.

The eight new CJs will be:

Allahabad  - Rajesh Bindal

Calcutta – Prakash Srivastava

Andhra Pradesh – Prashant Kumar Mishra

Karnataka – Ritu Raj Awasthi

Telangana – Satish Chandra Sharma

Meghalaya – Ranjit V. More

Gujarat – Aravind Kumar

Madhya Pradesh – R. V. Malimath

The five CJs to be transferred are:

Arup Kumar Goswami – Andhra Pradesh to Chhattisgarh

Mohd. Rafiq – Madhya Pradesh to Himachal Pradesh

Akil Qureshi – Tripura to Rajasthan

Indrajit Mahanty – Rajasthan to Tripura

Biswanath Somadder – Meghalaya to Sikkim

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 5:02:53 AM |

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