The preceding week saw a lot of action in the Supreme Court, with 5 Judges swearing in as Supreme Court Judges and the Union Government appointing two more Judges. 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

The afore-stated Chief Justices were recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium in a detailed Resolution dated 31-01-2023, where the Collegium listed the following considerations2 for recommending their names-

  • 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.

What these Appointments mean for Supreme Court’s Sanctioned Judges’ Strength?

The original Constitution of 1950 envisaged a Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and 7 puisne Judges, leaving it to the Parliament to increase this number. As the work of the Court increased and arrears of cases began to cumulate, Parliament increased the number of Judges from 8 in 1950 to 11 in 1956, 14 in 1960, 18 in 1978, 26 in 1986, 31 in 20093.

In 2019, an Amendment4 was introduced in Section 2 of the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act, 1956, whereby which the number of Supreme Court Judges was increased to 34.

As the number of the Judges have increased, they sit in smaller Benches of two and three; coming together in larger Benches of 5 and more only when required to do so or to settle a difference of opinion or controversy5.

So far, the month of February saw the appointment of 7 new Judges to the Supreme Court and amid the concerns raised regarding a gnawing number of vacancies in various courts, the appointments of Justices Rajesh Bindal and Aravind Kumar assumes a lot of significance, as their appointments achieve the sanctioned strength mandated for the Supreme Court i.e., 34 Judges.

Did You Know? The last timeSupreme Court was at its full strength of 34 Judges, was in 20196 when 4 new Judges- Justice Krishna Murari, Justice S Ravindra Bhatt, Justice V. Ramasubramanian, and Justice Hrishikesh Roy were appointed7

Know Thy Judges

As the newly appointed Judges begin their tenure in the Supreme Court, therefore, it is only proper to know a bit about Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Aravind Kumar’s life, their career and their notable judgments so far-

Justice Rajesh Bindal8

Early Life, Education and Advocacy

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.

During his tenure as an advocate, Justice Bindal represented the Income-tax Department, Haryana region before the High Court; Chandigarh Administration before Central Administrative Tribunal for more than a decade till 2004 and Punjab & Haryana regions of Employees Provident Fund Organization before the High Court and Central Administrative Tribunal from 1992 till his elevation as Judge. Furthermore, he represented the State of Haryana, in settlement of the dispute concerning Satluj Yamuna Water with State of Punjab before Eradi Tribunal and the Supreme Court.

Judgeship of the High Courts

Justice Bindal was elevated as a Judge of High Court of Punjab & Haryana on 22-03-2006. Subsequently in 2018 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.

Did You Know?During his tenure as a Judge in Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Bindal disposed of around 80,000 cases!

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 Court. Justice Rajesh Bindal took oath as a Supreme Court Judge on 13-02-2023.

Chairmanship of various Committees

  • Justice Bindal was the Chairman of the Committee constituted pursuant to Resolution adopted in the Chief Justices’ Conference, 2016, for framing Draft Rules for Electronic Evidence.

  • Justice Bindal was the Chairman of a multi-member Committee constituted by Ministry of Women and Child Development to study Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016, he submitted report accompanied by the recommendations and draft of the Protection of Children (Inter-Country Removal and Retention) Bill, 2018 to the Ministry in April 2018.

  • Justice Bindal also headed various Committees including Computer Committee, Arrears Committee; Finance Committee, Building and Infrastructure Committee, Information Technology Committee, State Court Management Systems Committee in the High Court and also Chairman of J&K State Legal Service Authority.

  • He was also the Chairman of the Committee constituted for conducting assessment for optimal use of technology by NALSA and the State Legal Services Authorities including use of Artificial Intelligence.

  • He was also Member of the Committee constituted to go into the existing framework of Lok Adalats and Mediation and to suggest ways for enhancing operational efficiency and plugging gaps, if any, or better application of these ADR mechanisms for weaker sections of the society.

Notable Judgements by Justice Rajesh Bindal

Allahabad High Court | Manual Scavenging | No protective gears provided to the sanitation workers; DM and Nagar Ayukt, summoned

The Division Bench of Rajesh Bindal, CJ. and J.J. Munir, J., in In Re Ensuring the Security of Life & Safety of Health of the Workmen & Employees Engaged v. State of U.P., 2022 SCC OnLine All 475 , had taken note of a news item published in a newspaper on 24-05-2022 regarding cleaning of drains in the city where the workers were carrying out their job without any protective gears, this petition was registered in public interest. Read More

Does advertisement issued in a newspaper with barely any circulation affect fair opportunity to candidates? Allahabad HC answers

The Division Bench of Rajesh Bindal, CJ. and J.J. Munir, J., in Ravi Pratap Mishra v. State of U.P., 2022 SCC OnLine All 397 dismissed an appeal which was filed against the order of the Single Judge who had dismissed the writ petition filed by the appellant with the observation that prior to his appointment, the vacancy was not properly advertised. Read More

Allahabad High Court | Even after ‘Levana Suites fire’ case, unauthorised hotels still functioning in the city as Lucknow Development Authority has failed to take any action.

The division bench of Rajesh Bindal, C.J. and Brij Raj Singh, J., in Dr. Surendra Kumar v. State of UP, 2023 SCC OnLine All 18 , ordered for a comprehensive affidavit to be filed by the State furnishing explanation regarding the inaction against the unauthorised hotels functioning in Lucknow. Read More

Did Sourav Ganguly play with the ‘System’? Calcutta HC pens down its decision in illegal allotment of plot to cricketer against State’s land allotment policy

Opining that “process of applying the pick and choose a policy and making allotments at the whims and fancies of the persons in power continued in the State” Division Bench of Rajesh Bindal, CJ and Arijit Banerjee, J., in Humanity, Salt Lake v. State of W.B., 2021 SCC OnLine Cal 2610 remarked that,

“It is a fact that Sourav Ganguly has brought laurels for the country in Cricket. But when it comes to law, our Constitutional Scheme is that all are equal and no one can claim to be exclusive, above the law and seek benefits from the State, especially when question arises for allotment of plots for commercial venues.”

Read More

[Mismanagement and Wastage of Medicines in Government Hospitals] | Calcutta HC | Taxpayers money cannot be wasted; Court directs State to produce records of medicines, maintain system through IT

The Division Bench of Rajesh Bindal, ACJ. and Arijit Banerjee, J., in Court on its own motion v. State of West Bengal9 suo moto took up a matter in larger public interest which was brought into notice by Shivakant Prasad, J., wherein he had noticed disturbing news published in the daily Hindi newspaper ‘Sanmarg’ regarding apprehension of waste of medicines worth a crore of rupees in Beliaghata ID hospital. Read more

Calcutta HC| CM Mamta Banerjee’s Dharna at CBI office: Public trust and confidence in the judicial system is more important; Mob cannot have an upper hand

The Division Bench of Rajesh Bindal, CJ(A). and Arijit Banerjee, J., in CBI ACB Kolkata v. Firhad Hakim, 2021 SCC OnLine Cal 1629, were called upon to deal with an extra-ordinary situation where Chief Minister of the State can sit on a dharna outside the office of the Central Bureau of Investigation (‘CBI’) along with her supporters, which had investigated the case and was to present a charge-sheet in court against the accused who are senior party leaders of the party in power in the State, some of them being Ministers. Law Minister of the State was also present in Court where the accused were to be presented along with mob of 2000 to 3000 supporters. Read more

J&K HC | Non-applicant cannot be convicted on the statement of co-accused recorded under S. 67 of the NDPS Act, 1985

A Division Bench of Sanjay Dhar and Rajesh Bindal, JJ., in Union of India v. Rafi Ahmed, 2020 SCC OnLine J&K 643 while dismissing the present application seeking leave to appeal, said, “…the non-applicant cannot be convicted on the statement of co-accused recorded under Section 67 of the NDPS Act, as the same cannot be used as a confessional statement being barred under the provision of Section 25 of the Evidence Act.” Read More

Punjab and Haryana HC | Importer will not be held responsible for bearing the cost of inordinate delay which was condoned by Authorities

While deciding the case of detainment of imported goods of petitioner for the inordinate period by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) or the customs authorities, the Bench of Rajesh Bindal and Harinder Singh Sidhu, JJ., inShri Lakshmi Steels v. Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine P&H 12111 , said that the importing company cannot be burdened to incur unnecessary detention and demurrage charges if the delay is condoned by the Port Authority.Read More

Justice Aravind Kumar10

Early Life, Education and Advocacy

Justice Aravind Kumar was born on 14-07-1962 and was enrolled in 1987 as an Advocate. He appeared in Civil Courts, Magistrate Courts, and Appellate Tribunals for about 4 years before shifting practice to the High Courts. He was later appointed as Additional Central Government Standing Counsel at High Court of Karnataka in 1999 and as Standing Counsel for Income Tax Department.

Justice Kumar was also appointed as Member of Regional Direct Taxes Advisory Committee in the year 2002. Justice Aravind Kumar also acted as the Assistant Solicitor General of India in the year 2005.

Justice Aravind Kumar acted as a legal advisor to various statutory corporations and companies and had also been appointed as Special Public Prosecutor for the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Judgeship of the High Courts

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 13-10-2021.

Notable Judgments by Justice Aravind Kumar

Gujarat High Court | Delay in appointment of presiding officer of DRT leading to deprivation of legitimate right to speedy justice

The Division Bench of Aravind Kumar, CJ. and Ashutosh J. Shastri, J., in Nipun Praveen Singhvi v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Guj 828, allowed a writ petition which was filed seeking for a direction to fill up the post of Presiding Officer in Debt Recovery Tribunal-I, Ahmedabad contending inter-alia such vacancy violates the legal rights of the petitioner, bankers/lenders, borrowers, guarantors and other stake holders. Read More

Gujarat High Court | Show cause notice issued to 9 Judicial officers for disobeying the order of the High Court and not disposing of the case pending since 1977

While deciding the application, the division bench of Aravind Kumar, CJ., and Ashutosh J. Shastri, J., in Patel Ambalal Kalidas v. Patel Motibhai Kalidas11, called upon the Judicial Officers to show cause as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for wilfully disobeying the order and direction issued by this Court.Read More

Gujarat High Court | Notice for appointment of arbitrator cannot be rejected on ground of vague material particulars

While deciding the instant petition, Aravind Kumar, C.J., in Hemlata Jain v. Padmavati Analkumar Mishra, 2022 SCC OnLine Guj 1787, said that the prayer for appointment of an arbitrator under Section 11(6) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 2016 cannot be rejected on the ground that it is vague or bereft of the material particulars as Section 21 of the A&C Act does not remotely suggests that the nature of dispute has to be enumerated or explained in the notice invoking the arbitration clause.Read More

Karnataka HC | No bar for claiming maintenance under S. 24 Hindu Marriage Act, even in the event of application under S. 125 CrPC having been filed

While passing the order in a writ petition filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, a Single Judge Bench comprising of Aravind Kumar, J., in Sunita Motwani v. Amitabh Sinha12, held that the contention of the respondent that the present application for maintenance was not maintainable on account of the petitioner having already filed an application under S. 125 CrPC could not be accepted.Read More

Karnataka HC│ Yipee Magic Masala Noodles and Wai Wai Majedaar Masala Noodles copyright infringement battle

A Division Bench of Aravind Kumar and Pradeep Kumar Yerur, JJ., in ITC Ltd. v. CG Foods (India) (P) Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 14700 , dismissed the appeal and affirmed the order dated 22-06-2021 passed in O.S.No.177/2021 by LXXXIV Additional City Civil and Sessions Judge (CCH-85) (Commercial Court), Bengaluru. The Court observed that while deciding the question of copyright infringement it is not necessary that the defendants work must be an exact reproduction of the plaintiffs work. What is essential is to see whether there is a reproduction of the substantial part of the plaintiffs work. Read More

Karnataka HC | Persons with disabilities are entitled to priority in medical treatment in light of S. 25 of Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016

A Division Bench of Abhay S Oka, CJ and Aravind Kumar, J., in Mohd. Arif Jameel v. Union of India , 2021 SCC OnLine Kar 15714 , gave a slew of directions regarding vaccine allocation. The Court took stock of the various aspect related to COVID vaccination in the State.Read More

*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has prepared this report

1. Latest orders of Appointment , Department of Justice

2. Collegium Resolution dated 31-01-2023 , Supreme Court of India

3. History of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court of India

4. Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019

5. History of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court of India

6. Supreme Court regains full working strength., The Economic Times

7. New Judges Appointed, SC Observer

8. Justice Rajesh Bindal, Allahabad High Court

9. WPA (P) 180 of 2021, order dated: 22-06-2021

10. Justice Aravind Kumar , Gujarat High Court

11. Misc. Civil Application (For Direction) No. 1 of 2022, decided on 19-12-2022

12. W.P. No. 15406/2017 C/with W.P. No. 20884/2017 (GM-FC),

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