Last few weeks have been supremely active with regards judicial appointments especially in the Supreme Court. With 5 Judges recently swearing in as Supreme Court Judges, the Centre today again notified the appointment of 2 more Judges to the Supreme Court.
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 two judges to the Supreme Court, thus paving way for elevation of Chief Justices of Allahabad and Gujarat High Court to the topmost constitutional court of the country.
In a Notification issued on 10-02-2023, the Ministry of Law and Justice notified the appointment of the following Chief Justices1–
Justice Rajesh Bindal, Chief Justice, Allahabad High Court
Justice Aravind Kumar, Chief Justice, Gujarat High Court
Considerations of the Supreme Court Collegium
The afore-stated Chief Justices were recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium comprising on Dr D.Y Chandrachud, C.J.I., Sanjay Kishan Kaul, K.M. Joseph, M.R. Shah, Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ., on 31-01-20232.
In a detailed Resolution for recommendation, the Collegium listed the following considerations3 for recommending the names of Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Aravind Kumar-
The seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges in their respective parent High Courts as well as overall seniority of the High Court Judges;
The merit, performance and integrity of the judges under consideration; and
The need to ensure diversity and inclusion in the Supreme Court, which included the representation of High Courts that are inadequately represented in the Supreme Court.
Overview of the Newly Elevated Supreme Court Judges
Justice Rajesh Bindal
Born on 16-04-1961, at Ambala City in the State of Haryana (India), Justice Rajesh Bindal did his LL.B. from Kurukshetra University in 1985 and joined the legal profession in the High Court of Punjab & Haryana in September 1985. Justice Bindal was elevated as a Judge of High Court of Punjab & Haryana on 22-03-2006. Subsequently he was transferred to the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and, in 2020 was appointed as the Acting Chief Justice of the Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Further on Justice Bindal was transferred to the High Court at Calcutta and was later sworn in as the Chief Justice of the High Court at Calcutta with effect from 29-04-2021. On 11-10-2021, Justice Bindal took oath as the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court4.
Justice Aravind Kumar
Justice Aravind Kumar was born on 14-07-1962 and was enrolled in 1987 as an Advocate. He was later appointed as Additional Central Government Standing Counsel at High Court of Karnataka, and as Standing Counsel for Income Tax Department. Justice Aravind Kumar also acted as the Assistant Solicitor General of India in the year 2005.
Justice Kumar was elevated as Additional Judge, High Court of Karnataka on 26-06-2009 and as Permanent Judge on 07-12-2012. Later he was appointed as Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court on 13-10-20215.
What these Appointments mean for the Judicial Strength of the Supreme Court?
With the appointment of Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Aravind Kumar, the Supreme Court now achieves its sanctioned strength 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. After the today’s elevations, the Supreme Court will function on its complete sanctioned strength of 34 Judges until Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and M.R. Shah retire in the month of May7.
*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has prepared this report
6. , Supreme Court of India
7. Refer fn 6