Year ends are a time to look back and reflect. Reflecting and introspecting about the year gone by is practice that is taken by both individuals and institutions alike, as they provide an opportunity to observe the foundations upon which the future year is to be built.
With 2 Chief Justices getting appointed along regular monthly retirements, the Supreme Court was surely on its toes this year. Thus, in an attempt to step back and provide this opportunity of reflection, we have curated the ongoings of the Supreme Court for the outgoing year, but it is all about the Judges!
Appointments and Recommendations of 2022
2022 was a hectic year for the Top Court. While on one hand, many esteemed Judges bid adieu to the hallowed halls of the Supreme Court, on the other hand the Collegium worked hard to replenish the deficiency of the judicial strength caused by the monthly vacancies and went on to appoint 3 Judges to the Supreme Court and recommend 5 more.
This month saw the retirement of Justice Vineet Saran, but it also saw the recommendation and appointment of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and J.B. Pardiwala.
Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia was born on 10-08-1960 in Pauri Garhwal, Justice Dhulia is a second-generation legal professional who joined the Bar at Allahabad High Court in 1986 and then shifted his base to High Court of Uttarakhand after formation of the new state in 2000.
Justice Dhulia was elevated as a permanent Judge of Uttarakhand High Court on 01-11-2008. He was elevated as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court on 07-01-2021 and took the oath on 10-01-2021. Justice Dhulia was elevated as Judge of Supreme Court of India on 09-05-2022. Read more about Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia here – Know Thy Judge- Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia
Justice Jamshed Burjor Pardiwala was born in Mumbai on 12-08-1965 into a family of lawyers. Justice Pardiwala began his legal career as an advocate from Gujarat High Court in January 1989 and eventually was elected to the State Bar Council in 1994 wherein he remained as a member till 2000.
Justice Pardiwala earned the coveted title of “Justice” when he began his judgeship on 17-02-2011, having been appointed as Additional Judge of Gujarat High Court which was made permanent on 28-01-2013. Justice Pardiwala was elevated to the Supreme Court on 09-05-2022. Read more about Justice J.B. Pardiwala here- Know Thy Judge- Justice J.B. Pardiwala
Supreme Court had a frenetic month of August with the retirement of 48th Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana and subsequent elevation of Justice Uday U. Lalit as the 49th Chief Justice of India.
As per the prevalent tradition, Justice Ramana nominated the name of next senior most Judge of the Supreme Court and thus paved the way for Justice Lalit to take oath as the next CJI.
Chief Justice Uday U. Lalit upon his elevation, straightway highlighted the important focus areas that will be at the core of his tenure-
Listing of Matters
Mentioning of matters
Listing of matters before the Constitution Benches and matters referred to 3-judge Benches
A man with a plan, Justice UU Lalit practically ran a race against time, given his tenure as CJI was to be only for 74 days. Justice Lalit had a challenging task of dealing with the rising expectations from the judiciary, while balancing it with the limited time and resources at his disposal. Some of the major highlights of Chief Justice Lalit’s tenure were-
Shortly before Justice Lalit’s tenure began the Supreme Court announced that it will hear 25 pending Constitution Bench cases starting from 29-08-2022. Sweeping administrative changes were made, especially transparent and prompt listing of cases. In the month of September, the Court divided its judicial time between long-pending regular cases and public interest petitions. The month-end saw a drop in backlog cases. 1
Major decisions were taken in the Supreme Court after Full Court meetings. One of such significant decisions taken during a Full Court meeting was regarding live streaming of the Constitution Bench hearings
During the proceedings in Lalit’s courtroom, cases of personal liberty such as bail and anticipatory bail matters were given urgent hearing when mentioned. Furthermore, a change was introduced in the order in which cases were heard by the Supreme Court on daily basis.2
Changing The Statistical Scenario
The Bench headed by Justice UU Lalit heard around 60 matters in a time span of around 2.5 hours.3
Shortly after assuming office on August 27, Justice Lalit stated that the Supreme Court achieved the feat of disposing of 1,842 cases over four days. Moreover, the case pendency in Supreme Court stood at 69,461 on October 1, as against 70,310 on September 1, according to statistics published by the Supreme Court4.
Justice Lalit’s first day as Chief Justice marked a path for a new beginning with close to 600 cases being heard in the Supreme Court on Monday. Out of nearly 900 petitions listed before the Court, around 592 of them were cases which were heard for the first time, though their filing was either of this year or they were filed in some time last year.5
After Justice Lalit’s whirlwind tenure of 74 days, the time came for one of the most anticipated elevation to the post of CJI, and it was of Justice Dr. D.Y Chandrachud.
Taking over the mantle from his predecessor as the 50th Chief Justice of India, Justice Dr. Chandrachud listed out his key focus areas for the next two years on the administrative side. He, however, made clear that he has no plans on cutting down on his judicial responsibilities as it’s the judicial work that is the most fulfilling aspect of his life and there cannot be any comprises with that.
“I am not here to do miracles. The challenges are high. Perhaps expectations are also great. But this is what I tell myself every day that if this were to be the last day of my life, have I left the World a better place?”
During his tenure as CJI, Dr. Justice Chandrachud aims at-
Changing the face of the District Judiciary
Removal of human interference from Listing Process
Filling up of Judicial vacancies
E-filing at the Supreme Court
Read more about the objectives and focal areas for CJI Chandrachud here- Not here to do miracles- Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud
Read more about CJI Chandrachud’s life and judicial career – Know Thy Chief Justice- Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud
With Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud at the helm of the Supreme Court, the focus shifted to the vacancies in the Supreme Court itself. In sync with his objective of filing the up of such vacancies, the Collegium led by the 50th Chief Justice, recommended the name of Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, Justice Dipankar Datta for elevation to the Supreme Court.
Justice Dipankar Datta, born on 09-02-1965 in a family with legal background, is the son of a former Calcutta High Court Judge, late Justice Salil Kumar Datta and brother-in-law of former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Amitava Roy.
Point To Be Noted! With Justice Datta’s elevation to the Supreme Court, the Court’s judicial strength has risen to 28 out of total strength of 34 judges.
Read more about Justice Dipankar Datta here – Know Thy Newly Appointed Supreme Court Judge- Justice Dipankar Datta
Furthermore, in December, the Collegium recommended the elevation of 5 Judges to the Supreme Court. They are-
Shri Justice Pankaj Mithal, Chief Justice, Rajasthan High Court
Shri Justice Sanjay Karol, Chief Justice, Patna High Court
Shri Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Justice, Manipur High Court
Shri Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, Judge, Patna High Court, and
Shri Justice Manoj Misra, Judge, Allahabad High Court.
2022- The Year of Retirements
2022 was certainly a busy year to be at the Supreme Court. This year, 8 Judges retired. Surely the year began with the retirement of Justice R. Subhash Reddy, but the pace of retirements picked up from the month of May on a monthly basis and went all into November. Busy indeed!
The year began with the retirement of Justice Ramayyagari Subhash Reddy, who bid adieu to the Supreme Court after a tenure of 4 years.
Justice Vineet Saran, a seasoned legal luminary, retired on 10th May, 2022, after 4 years’ Judgeship at the Supreme Court.
The month of June saw the multi-talented judge, Justice Lavu Nageshwara Rao, bidding farewell to the hallowed halls of the Apex Court.
Justice A.M. Khanwilkar retired from the Supreme Court Judgeship after a tenure of 6 years. Just 2 days before his retirement, Justice Khanwilkar delivered a lengthy and significant decision on various aspects of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002.
The month of August saw a heavyweight retirement in the form India’s 48th Chief Justice N.V. Ramana. One of the chief highlight of Chief Justice Ramana’s farewell day was that for the first time ever, the proceedings before the Ceremonial Bench of the Chief Justice, on his last working day in the Supreme Court, was live-streamed!6
Providing a beacon of hope for numerous women in the legal profession, Justice Indira Banerjee, who was also the 8th female Judge in the history of Supreme Court, retired in the month of September.
Justice Hemant Gupta retired from the Supreme Court Judgeship after a comprehensive tenure of 4 years. A few days before his retirement, Justice Hemant Gupta delivered a spilt verdict in the much talked about Hijab- Ban case.
This month saw the retirement of the 49th Chief Justice of India, Uday U. Lalit, whose short but action-packed 74-day tenure, become a stuff of legends!
A Hopeful New Year!
Did You Notice! In 2022, 2 Chief Justices (Ramana and Lalit) retired, and 2 Chief Justics were appointed (Lalit and Dr. Chandrachud)
2022 saw enough action to raise the optimism levels of people keenly observing the happenings of the Supreme Court. With the current Chief Justice of India, not mincing any words and clearly stating his priorities to usher in widespread reforms, we are hopeful that an eventful 2023 is on the horizon.
Read all about the Chief Justices of India and Supreme Court Judges, here.
*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has put this report together.
1. 25 Constitution Benches, SC Observer
2. Faster Case Disposal, Money Control
3. Record hearing of cases, News18
4. Supreme Court Case Pendency Statistics
5. Record hearing of cases, News18
6. Live Streaming of SC Proceedings, Supreme Court of India