With both the Executive and Judiciary, in their own ways, highlighting the importance of filling the judicial vacancies, finally there is some good news in this regard.

In exercise of the powers conferred under Art. 124 (2) of the Constitution, the President of India gave her seal of approval to the appointment of 5 Judges to the Supreme Court, thus paving way for elevation of  3 High Court Chief Justices and 2 High Court Judges.

In a notification issued on 04-02-2023, the Ministry of Law and Justice notified the appointment of the following Chief Justices and Judges who were recommended for elevation by the Supreme Court Collegium in December 2022-

  1. Shri Justice Pankaj Mithal, Chief Justice, Rajasthan High Court
  2. Shri Justice Sanjay Karol, Chief Justice, Patna High Court
  3. Shri Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Justice, Manipur High Court
  4. Shri Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, Judge, Patna High Court,
  5. Shri Justice Manoj Misra, Judge, Allahabad High Court.

Know Thy Newly Appointed Supreme Court Judges

Justice Pankaj Mithal[1]

Born on 17-06-1961, Justice Pankaj Mithal graduated in Commerce from Allahabad University in 1982 and passed LL. B from Meerut College in 1985 and in the same year he was enrolled as an advocate in Bar Council of U.P.

He practised in the Allahabad High Court from 1985 and worked as Standing Counsel, U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad, Lucknow, since 1990 till his elevation to the Bench. Justice Mithal was also the Standing Counsel of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Agra, since 1990 to February 2006.

He was elevated as Additional Judge on 07-07-2006 and took oath as Permanent Judge on 02-07-2008. Later he took oath as the Chief Justice of Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh on 04-01-2021. Justice Mithal then became the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court on 14-10-2022.

Justice Sanjay Karol[2]

Born on 23-08-1961, in Shimla, Justice Karol is a native of Village Garli (First Heritage Village), Tehsil Dehra Gopipur, District Kangra, H.P. An alumni of St. Edward School, Shimla, Justice Karol graduated with Honours in History from Government Degree College, Shimla and obtained degree in law from H.P. University, Shimla.

Justice Karol enrolled as an Advocate in the year 1986 and practiced in various Courts, including the Supreme Court. During the many years of his practice, Justice Karol dealt in Constitutional, Taxation, Corporate, Criminal and Civil matters. He appeared as counsel in the Inter-State Water Dispute (BBMB Project) in the Supreme Court. He was designated as Senior Advocate in 1999 and remained on the Senior Panel for Central Government, Supreme Court. Justice Karol was also the Advocate General of Himachal Pradesh from 1998 to 2003.

Justice Karol was elevated as a Judge of Himachal Pradesh High Court in 2007 and was then appointed as its Acting Chief Justice in 2017. He was then appointed as the Chief Justice of High Court of Tripura on 09-11-2018 and then as Chief Justice of Patna High Court on 11-11-2019.

Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar[3]

Justice P.V. Sanjay Kumar was born on 14-08-1963 to late P. Ramachandra Reddy [former Advocate General of Andhra Pradesh (1969 to 1982)] and late P. Padmavathamma. Justice Sanjay Kumar did his graduation in Commerce from Nizam College, Hyderabad and secured Law Degree from Delhi University in 1988.

He enrolled as advocate in the Bar Council of Andhra Pradesh in August, 1988. Justice Sanjay Kumar was attached to the office of his father and gained exposure to various branches of Law and after his father’s retirement, he started practicing independently. During his tenure as an advocate, Justice Sanjay Kumar represented the Andhra Pradesh High Court and Subordinate Judiciary, HPCL, IOCL etc in many cases. He also served as Government Pleader in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh from 2000-2003.

Justice Sanjay Kumar was elevated to the Bench as Additional Judge, High Court of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad, on 08-08-2008. He further assumed charge as Permanent Judge of High Court of Andhra Pradesh on 20-01-2010 and was later transferred as a Judge of High Court of Punjab and Haryana, where he assumed charge on 14-10-2019. On 14-02-2021, Justice Sanjay Kumar took oath as the Chief Justice of High Court of Manipur

Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah[4]

Born on 11-05-1963, Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah obtained degrees in B.Sc. (Hons.) (Chemistry) and  LL.B. He was enrolled with the Bihar State Bar Council on 27-09-1991 and practiced predominantly in Constitutional Courts, majorly in the Patna High Court; Supreme Court, and Calcutta, Jharkhand and Delhi High Courts (intermittent appearances) inter alia, in Constitutional, Civil, Criminal, Service, Co-operative, Taxation, Labour, Corporate, Forest matters. Justice Amanullah has specialised in Constitutional and Service laws.

He was the Standing Counsel for Government of Bihar (March 2006 – August 2010) and Government Advocate, State of Bihar (August 2010 till elevation to Patna High Court). Justice Amanullah was also the Special Counsel for Income-Tax Department, before Jharkhand High Court and the Counsel for  District Administration before the Commission of Inquiry into the Dalsingsarai (Samastipur) firing incident.

Justice Amanullah was empanelled by the Patna Legal Aid Committee (precursor to High Court Legal Services Committee) for Criminal Appeals. He was appointed as Amicus Curiae in matters of significance and has been associated with social issues pro bono. Justice Amanullah was instrumental in drafting and vetting subordinate/delegated legislation for certain Acts of the Bihar Legislature during 2006-2011.

Justice Amanullah was elevated as Judge, Patna High Court on 20-06-2011 and was later transferred to Andhra Pradesh High Court on 10-10-2021. He was re-transferred to Patna High Court on 20-06- 2022.

Justice Manoj Misra[5]

Justice Manoj Misra was born on 02-06-1965 and obtained his degree in Law from Allahabad University in 1988. He was enrolled with the Bar Council on 12-12-1988 and dealt in matters related to Civil, Revenue, Criminal and Constitutional sides at Allahabad High Court.

Justice Misra was elevated as Additional Judge on 21-11-2011 and took oath as Permanent Judge on 06-8-2013.

What these Appointments mean for the Judicial Strength of the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court has a sanctioned strength of 34 Judges. When the Collegium recommended the names of the afore-stated Judges in 2022, the Supreme Court had seen a flurry of retirements with the previous year ending at 28 Judges out of the sanctioned number of 34 Judges.

This year 9 Supreme Court Judges are due for retirement[6], with Justice Abdul Nazeer having retired in January, the other 8 Judges are due to bid adieu to the Court later this year (bulk retirements in May and June!).

Justice Nazeer’s retirement reduced the Supreme Court’s Judge’s strength to 27 judges.  However, with the appointment of the afore-stated Judges, the strength now rises to 32 Judges; and if the Central Government accepts the recent Collegium recommendation of two more Judges, then the Supreme Court will finally have its complete sanctioned strength of 34 Judges until Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and M.R. Shah retire in the month of May”[7].

Sucheta Sarkar Editorial Assistant has prepared this report

[1] Justice Pankaj Mithal, Rajasthan High Court

[2] Justice Sanjay Karol=, Himachal Pradesh High Court

[3] Justice PV Sanjay  Kumar Manipur High Court

[4] Ahsanuddin Amanullah=, Patna High Court

[5] Justice Manoj Misra, Allahabad High Court

[6] Chief Justice and Judges, Supreme Court of India

[7] Refer fn 6

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