The Supreme Court (SC) Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur, on 4 May 2016 recommended elevation of three High Court Chief Justices and a senior lawyer to the apex court.
This is the first set of recommendations made by the SC Collegium for appointment as judges of the apex court after the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act was struck down by a Supreme Court bench on 16 October 2015.
NJAC wanted to replace the 22-year-old collegium system and provided equal say to politicians in appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
The three Justices include
• Justice AM Khanwilkar of the Madhya Pradesh High Court
• Justice DY Chandrachud of the Allahabad High Court
• Justice Ashok Bhushan of the Kerala High Court to the Supreme Court
L Nageshwar Rao: Fourth appointment
• He is senior lawyer.
• He was counsel for Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in a disproportionate assets case in the Supreme Court.
• He also served as Additional Solicitor General in the Supreme Court for the UPA-II government and the present NDA government before he resigned from the post.
• If Rao’s appointment is finalised than he will be the seventh person in India’s legal history to be directly appointed to the Supreme Court.
Previous direct appointments to Supreme Court
The previous six such appointments directly from the Bar to Supreme Court judge include
• Justice SM Sikri (1964): He became the first person to be directly appointed from Bar. He became the Chief Justice of India in January 1971 and retired in April 1973.
• Justice SC Roy (1971): He died after holding the post for four months.
• Justice Kuldip Singh (1988): He retired in December 1996.
• Justice Santosh Hegde (1999): He retired in June 2005.
• Justice Rohinton F Nariman (2014): He will retire after attaining the age of 65 years on 12 August 2021.
• UU Lalit (August 2014): He became the sixth Supreme Court judge to be elevated directly from the Bar. He shall serve on this post till his retirement on 8 November 2022.
Besides, acting Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh/Telangana High Court Justice DB Bhonsle has been recommended for the post of Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court in place of Justice Chandrachud.
Supreme Court’s strength
If these recommendations are finalised than the Supreme Courts judicial strength will go up to 28 from 25. Failing which the Supreme Court judge strength will come down to 20 in 2016 as five judges are set to retire by the end of this year. These five judges are:
• Justice FMI Kalifulla in July
• Justice V Gopala Gowda in October
• Justice C Nagappan in October
• Justice Anil R Dave in November
• Justice Shiva Kirti Singh in November
Who can be appointed as Judge to Supreme Court?
Usually, a former Chief Justice of a High Court is elevated to the position of a SC judge, though lawyers from the bar are sometimes elevated to the position of judges in High Court.
According to Article 124 (3) of the Constitution of India provides for three categories of persons to be appointed to the Supreme Court bench, that is, high court judges, advocates and a distinguished jurist.
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When: 4 May 2016