Supreme Court Collegium recommends 9 names as judges

It names Karnataka HC judge B.V. Nagarathna, who may become India’s first woman CJI

The Supreme Court Collegium, led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana has recommended to the government nine names for appointment as apex court judges, and in the process scripted history by naming Karnataka High Court judge B.V. Nagarathna, who may become India’s first woman CJI.

The Collegium, also comprising Justices U.U. Lalit, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao, met until the late hours of August 17 to zero in on the names. It, however, formalised and published its resolution on Wednesday.

The names include eight judges and one lawyer from the Supreme Court Bar.

They are Karnataka High Court (HC) Chief Justice (CJ) A.S. Oka, who is the most senior Chief Justice; Gujarat Chief Justice Vikram Nath; Sikkim Chief Justice J.K. Maheshwari; Telangana Chief Justice Hima Kohli, who is also the only serving woman Chief Justice; Justice Nagarathna; Kerala High Court judge Justice C.T. Ravikumar; Madras High Court judge Justice M.M. Sundresh; Gujarat High Court judge Justice Bela M. Trivedi; and senior advocate P.S. Narasimha, in that order.

3 women judges

The Collegium has for the first time, in one single resolution, recommended three women judges. It has thus sent a strong signal in favour of representation of women in the highest judiciary.

It has also continued the recent trend to recommend direct appointments from the Supreme Court Bar to the Bench of the court.

If the government approves the names, three of the nine – Chief Justice Nath and Justice Nagarathna and Mr. Narasimha would go on to be the CJIs. Mr. Narasimha, who had served as Additional Solicitor General, may become the ninth lawyer to be ever appointed directly as judge in the apex court.

10 vacancies

The top court currently has 10 vacancies. Judicial appointments to it have remained frozen since September 2019. The last batch of appointments in September 2019 were of Justices Krishna Murari, S. Ravindra Bhat, V. Ramasubramanian and Hrishikesh Roy. The oldest vacancy is that of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, who retired in November 2019.

The tenure of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde did not see a single judicial appointment to the court though frequent discussions were held by the Collegium. Justice Bobde’s tenure as CJI had to weather the breakout of an unprecedented crisis in the form of COVID-19.

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