NEW DELHI: With Justice R Banumathi set to retire on July 19, the number of women judges in the Supreme Court will come down to two and the overall judge strength to 31.
Keeping this in mind, the SC Collegium is planning to recommend two names for elevation to fill the existing vacancies in the apex court. Sources said a meeting of the Collegium is likely to be convened soon.
One of the names doing the rounds is that of Karnataka High Court judge B V Nagarathna. If she is elevated to the top court now, she will be in line to become the first woman Chief Justice of India in 2027 for a period of eight months.
Her father Justice E S Venkataramiah was the CJI from June to December in 1989.
However, if Justice Nagarathna doesn’t get elevated to the Supreme Court -- which comes with a three-year extension -- she will retire in October 2024.
Justice Nagarathna is the second senior-most judge of the Karnataka High Court after she was appointed in 2008 as additional judge.
Justice Nagarathna stands at serial number 46 in all-India seniority of high court judges.
Among the other names under the Collegium’s consideration are Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha, Rajasthan Chief Justice Govind Mathur, Calcutta High Court Chief Justice T B Radhakrishnan, Madras High Court Chief Justice A P Sahi, Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Vikram Nath, Tripura High Court Chief Justice Akil A Kureshi, Delhi High Court Chief Justice D N Patel, and J&K High Court Chief Justice Gita Mittal.
But if Justice Vikram Nath is appointed to the top court before Justice Nagarathna, he will take over as the CJI in 2027.
Only if Justice Nagarathna is considered for elevation now, either alone or with judges junior to her, can she become the first woman CJI in 2027.
Only one woman chief justice in high courts
There are 688 judges in high courts across the country, out of which 80 are women, out of these, only one woman is currently the chief justice of a High Court- Justice Gita Mittal of Jammu & Kashmir High Court.