New Delhi: Three high court chief justices were appointed to the Supreme Court today, taking the total number of judges in the apex court to 25. Notifications announcing the appointments of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice KM Joseph, Madras HC Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Orissa HC Chief Justice Vineet Saran to the Supreme Court were issued today.
Their warrants of appointment were signed by President Ram Nath Kovind last night. Justice Joseph’s elevation to the apex court ended a protracted stand-off between the government and the judiciary. The number of judges in the top court after the fresh appointments has gone up to 25. There would still be six vacancies though.
Justice Banerjee would become an eight woman judge in the history of the Supreme Court. Justice Banerjee was appointed as a judge of the Calcutta High Court on February 5, 2002 and was transferred to Delhi HC on August 8, 2016.
She was elevated as Chief Justice of Madras HC on April 5, 2017 and has been functioning there since then. She stands at serial number 4 in the combined seniority of high court Judges on all-India basis. Justice Saran was appointed as a judge in the Allahabad High Court on February 14, 2002 and was transferred to the Karnataka High Court on February 16, 2015.
He was elevated as the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court on February 26, 2016 and has been functioning there since then. He stands at serial number 5 in the combined seniority of high court judges on all-India basis.
Justice Joseph’s name was recommended for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court by the collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on January 10. On April 30, the government had returned the recommendation for reconsideration on the grounds that he lacked seniority.
The executive had also pointed out that several high courts remain unrepresented and Justice Joseph’s elevation would be against the principle of regional representation. His parent high court is the Kerala HC. Justice Joseph had struck down the imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand in 2016 after the dismissal of a Congress government led by Harish Rawat.
An earlier recommendation of the collegium to transfer Justice Joseph to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court on health grounds was kept pending by the government for a long time .The collegium on May 16 in-principle reiterated the decision to recommend Justice Joseph’s name. But the recommendation was sent to the government in July.