NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday officially announced that its collegium has recommended to the Centre nine names, including three women high court judges, for appointing them as judges of the apex court, hours after Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana publicly said he is “very upset” over some media reports on its deliberations on their selection.
The recommendation by the Supreme Court’s five-member collegium headed by Justice Ramana at its meeting on Tuesday puts an end to the 21-month-long logjam over appointment of new judges to the apex court.
The recommendations have to be cleared by the Centre.
Justice B V Nagarathna, if cleared by the Centre, would become the first woman CJI in 2027.
She is currently a judge of the Karnataka High Court.
The impasse over the appointment has led to a situation in which not a single name for the judgeship in the apex court could be recommended after the superannuation of the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi on November 17, 2019.
With the retirement of Justice Navin Sinha on Wednesday, the strength of judges in the top court has come down to 24 as against the sanctioned strength of 34, including the CJI.
The recommendations, if accepted, will fill nine vacancies taking the working strength to 33.
The vacancy created due to the superannuation of Justice Sinha would remain for the time being.
Justice Ramana, who chaired the crucial meetng of the collegium to recommend names of nine persons for the judgeship on August 17, said he was “extremely upset” about reports in the media regarding appointment of judges’ in the Supreme Court, adding career progression of bright talents has been marred earlier by “irresponsible reporting”.
The process of appointment of judges is “sacrosanct” and the media must recognise its sanctity, the CJI said while heading the ceremonial bench to bid farewell to Justice Navin Sinha, and termed as “very unfortunate” certain speculative news reports about the Collegium meeting.
The CJI said today’s reflections in some sections of the media pending the process even before formalising the resolution is counter-productive.
The head of the judiciary was referring to media reports which said the Collegium, headed by the CJI, is understood to have recommended nine names for appointment as judges in the top court.
The Collegium at its meeting held on August 17, has recommended names of four chief justices of different high courts for elevation as judges of the Supreme Court, the top court said in a statement.
The four chief justices of different high courts are — Justices Abhay Shreeniwas Oka (Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court), Vikram Nath (Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court), Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari (Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court) and Justice Hima Kohli (Chief Justice of Telangana High Court).
Besides them and Justice Nagarathna, the names of Justice C T Ravikumar of the Kerala High Court, Justice M M Sundresh of the Madras High Court, Justice Bela Trivedi from the Gujarat High Court and senior advocate P S Narasimha have been recommended by the Collegium, the statement said.
Narasimha, whose name if cleared, would become the sixth lawyer to be elevated to the apex court bench directly from the Bar.
He was appointed Additional Solicitor General in 2014 and resigned from the post in 2018.
The five-member Collegium also comprises Justices U U Lalit, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao.
Justice A S Oka, the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court who is originally from Maharashtra, is the senior-most high court judge whose name has been recommended by the collegium.
However, Justice Akil Abdulhamid Kureshi, the Chief Justice of Tripura High Court and whose parent cadre was Gujarat, has not found a place in the present list.
It has been reported in the media earlier that there was some tussle over his name in the past deliberations of the Collegium.
Justice Oka, born on May 25, 1960, was enrolled as an advocate on June 28, 1983, and was elevated as the Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court in August, 2003.
He became the Chief Justice of the High Court of Karnataka on May 10, 2019.
Justice Maheshwari, who was earlier the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, was transferred to Sikkim High Court in December last year by the collegium headed by the then CJI S A Bobde after Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy made a complaint about some judges of that high court.
Justice Nath became a judge of the Allahabad High Court on September 24, 2004 and is presently working as the Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court.
Born on September 2, 1959 in Delhi, Justice Kohli was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Delhi High Court on May 29, 2006 and took oath as a permanent Judge on August 29, 2007, She later became the Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court on January 7, 2021.
Justice Nagarathna, born on October 30, 1962, is the daughter of former CJI E S Venkataramiah.
She was enrolled as an advocate on October 28, 1987 at Bangalore and practiced in the field pertaining to “constitution, commerce, insurance and service etc.”
She was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Karnataka High Court on February 18, 2008 and became a permanent Judge on February 17, 2010.
Justice Trivedi, born on June 10, 1960, is the judge of the Gujarat High Court since February 9, 2016.
Justice Sundresh was appointed as an Additional Judge of Madras High Court on March 31, 2009 and made a permanent Judge of Madras High Court on March 29, 2011.
Justice Ravikumar was sworn-in as Additional Judge of Kerala High Court on January 5, 2009 and became a Permanent Judge on December 15, 2010.
At the open court, CJI Ramana lauded the “tremendous amount of maturity and responsibility” displayed by majority of senior journalists and media houses in showing restraint and not speculating on such a serious matter.
“Such professional journalists and ethical media are the real strength of the Supreme Court in particular and democracy in general. You are part of our system. I expect all the stakeholders to uphold the integrity and dignity of this institution.”
As an institution, the apex court holds the freedom of media and the rights of individuals in high esteem, he said.
“On this occasion I want to take the liberty to express my concern about certain speculations and reports in the media. You are all aware we need to appoint judges to this court. The process is ongoing. Meetings will be held and decisions will be taken.”
“The process of appointment of judges is sacrosanct and has certain dignity attached to it. My media friends must understand and recognise the sanctity of this process,” CJI Ramana said.