It has been for the first time after 2008 that the Parliament has increased the Supreme Court’s strength to 31 judges, the court will now function at its full strength as President Ram Nath Kovind appointed four new judges on Wednesday.
These were Justices Aniruddha Bose, A S Bopanna, B R Gavai and Surya Kant.
Parliament had increased SC’s sanctioned strength from 26 to 31 in 2008. The collegium headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi on May 8 reiterated its April 12 recommendation for appointment of Jharkhand HC Chief Justice Bose and Gauhati HC CJ Bopanna as SC judges, brushing aside the Centre’s objections on the ground of seniority and equal representation to states.
On May 8, the collegium of CJI Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and R F Nariman had also recommended the names of Bombay HC’s Justice Gavai and Himachal Pradesh CJ Kant for appointment as SC judges. With this, the CJI Gogoi-headed collegium has succeeded in appointing 10 SC judges in seven months. The other six are Justices Hemant Gupta, R Subhash Reddy, M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi on November 2 and Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna on January 18.
In the recent past, no collegium headed by CJIs R M Lodha, H L Dattu, T S Thakur, J S Khehar and Dipak Misra succeeded in getting so many SC judges appointed. The collegium’s recommendations also have been cleared expeditiously by the Centre, exemplified by 48 hours taken by the Centre to clear the appointment of Justices Gupta, Reddy, Shah and Rastogi.
Among the four new SC judges likely to take oath in the next two days, Justice Gavai will become CJI for a little over six months in 2025.
SC gets a Scheduled Caste judge after nearly a decade
In Justice Gavai, the Supreme Court will get a judge from the Scheduled Caste community after nearly a decade. Justice Kant will succeed Justice Gavai as CJI on November 23, 2025, and remain in office till February 9, 2027.
Since CJI Gogoi took oath on October 3 last year, appointments to the three-tier justice delivery system have picked up pace. In seven months, the CJI-led collegium succeeded in appointing 14 chief justices to various HCs, which is just one less than the number of HC CJs appointed by the collegium headed by CJI Dipak Mishra during his 13-month tenure.
In the appointment of HC judges, the CJI Gogoi-headed collegium has so far recommended 128 names, of which 94 appointments have been cleared. During the 13-month tenure of CJI Thakur, the collegium had recommended 185 names, of which 126 were appointed as HC judges. If this is on the administrative side, benches led by CJI Gogoi have taken up the task of expeditious filling of vacancies in trial courts, towards which little attention had been paid before. Lack of enough trial judges has been a major cause for delay in disposal of cases, leading to monstrous pendency of 2.8 crore cases in trial courts.
Since an SC bench headed by CJI Gogoi criticised state governments and HCs for their lackadaisical approach in speeding up appointments to subordinate judiciary, as many as 1,372 trial judges have been appointed and the process for filling 4,768 more posts have been initiated.