On August 17th, the Supreme Court collegium, comprising CJI Ramana and Justices Lalit, Khanwilkar, Chandrachud and Rao, had recommended nine names to be elevated to the Supreme Court. The last time the Supreme Court made recommendations was two years ago on August 28th 2019. On August 26th, the President has approved all nine recommendations and appointed them as judges of the Supreme Court. Significantly, the list includes three women judges and one advocate directly from the Bar. Once the judges are sworn in, the Court’s strength will increase to 33 judges. This is one short of its sanctioned strength of 34 judges.
Four Chief Justices, Four High Court Judges, and One Senior Advocate
The list includes Chief Justice A.S. Oka (Karnataka High Court), Chief Justice Vikram Nath (Gujarat High Court), Chief Justice J.K. Maheshwari (Sikkim High Court) and Chief Justice Hima Kohli (Telangana High Court).
Four puisne (judges who are not Chief Justice) High Court judges have also been appointed: Justice B.V. Nagarathna (Karnataka High Court), Justice C.T. Ravikumar (Kerala High Court), Justice M.M. Sundresh (Madras High Court) and Justice Bela M. Trivedi (Gujarat High Court).
The President also appointed former Additional Solicitor General and Senior Advocate P.S. Narasimha, based on the collegium's recommendation. This makes Narasimha the ninth advocate to be elevated directly from the Supreme Court bar since 1947.
The three women,will be the ninth, tenth and eleventh women judges at the Court. If they are appointed before Banerjee J retires, the Supreme Court, for the first time, will have four woman judges.
First Woman Chief Justice of India in 2027?
If appointed judges are sworn in according to usual conventions, we can project who the next Chief Justices will be. After the current CJI Ramana, seniority dictates that Lalit, Chandrachud, Khanna and Kant JJ will occupy the position in that order, until February 9th 2027.
Of the new appointees, three will hold the position of Chief Justice. Justice Vikram Nath will hold the office for seven months after Kant J. Justice B.V. Nagarathna will be sworn in as the first woman Chief Justice of India on September 25th 2027 - she will, however, occupy the position for only 36 days. P.S. Narasimha will then hold the position for five months.
The Appointment Process
Under the Memorandum of Procedure for appointment, the collegium’s recommendation were sent to the Union government. The Union government could then either accept the recommendations or request the Collegium to reconsider one or more names. However, if the collegium unanimously reiterated their recommendations, the Government is conventionally bound to appoint the judges. The Union has cleared all nune names, and the President has apppointed the judges. The judges are likely to be sworn in and take office early next week.