NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court collegium yet to take decision on appointment of judges, seven vacancies are looming large in the apex court. And there will be two more once the apex court resumes functioning in July.Justice AK Goel will retire on July 6, soon after the top court resumes work after six-week summer vacation. Justice Chelameswar, who will be retiring officially on June 22, attended his last working day on May 18.
The Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court, R Subhash Reddy, who is retiring on January 4 next year, is a strong contender to fill Justice Chelameswar’s slot. His Madhya Pradesh counterpart Hemant Gupta, whose parent high court is Punjab and Haryana, may be considered for the slot arising after Justice Goel’s retirement. Chances are the Supreme Court collegium may take up cases of six chief justices of high courts for their elevation to the apex court. Also, the case of Justice KM Joseph of the Uttarakhand High Court will be there for consideration as he is the longest serving chief justice of a high court at present.
The resolution of the May 16 collegium meeting stated there was need for deliberation on bringing the high court judges to the Supreme Court. “In the meeting of the Collegium, a unanimous view was expressed that there should be further deliberation and broad-based consideration of the names of the Chief Justices as well as Judges of the High Courts which are at present not represented in the Supreme Court,”it said.
A look the data shows that the Calcutta, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Manipur and Meghalaya High Courts are not represented in the Supreme Court.
Judges of high courts retire at the age of 62, while it is 65 for judges of the Supreme Court. Only those chief justices whose tenure in the apex court is likely to be around four years are elevated, even though there are few exceptions in the past.
One of the contenders for elevation is Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court, Jyotirmay Bhattacharya. Justice Indira Banerjee, the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, may be considered as her appointment may address the gender imbalance in the apex court. Satish Kumar Agnihotri (the Chief Justice of Sikkim High Court) whose parent high court is Chhattisgarh, and Ajay Rastogi (the Chief Justice of the Tripura High Court) whose parent high court is Rajasthan, are other contenders.