NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court already facing vacancies and the Collegium making recommendations to the Centre for elevation of nine judges, all eyes will be on how long the Centre takes in clearing the names.
The Collegium on August 17 recommended nine persons for appointment as judges of the apex court. Eight of them are high court judges/Chief Justices, one is a senior advocate. Three are women judges — Justices Hima Kohli, BV Nagarathna and Bela Trivedi.
If all nine recommendations are cleared, three of them will adorn the post of Chief Justice of India — Justices Vikram Nath, BV Nagarathna and senior advocate PS Narasimha. All others will retire before Justice Surya Kant, who becomes Chief Justice of India from November 2025 to February 2027, retires.
But it will be interesting to see whether the name of Justice Vikram Nath will be cleared because the Centre had earlier rejected his name as Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court. He is presently Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court. If his name is struck off again, then Justice Nagarathna, who will be the first woman CJI in 2027, will get a longer tenure than a mere month.
Another controversy that looms on the present set of Collegium recommendations is ignoring the seniority of judges. Justice Akil Kureshi (No 2 in all India seniority) and Justice DN Patel (No 3) were elevated on the same day — March 7, 2004, to the Gujarat High Court. Justice DN Patel is currently Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, and Justice Kureshi is the Chief Justice of Tripura High Court.
According to sources, retired Justice RF Nariman wanted to follow the seniority norm for elevation of judges whereas others in the Collegium were opposed to this. So as soon as he retired and new Collegium was constituted, all recommendations were approved.
The Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation to appoint Justice Kureshi as the Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court had to be recalled in 2019 because the Centre opposed it, as it did not want Justice Kureshi to head a big high court.