Supreme Court names next CJ for Bombay High Court

Mumbai: It seems the Supreme Court collegium has learnt lessons from the past — to ensure the office of Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court does not once again lie vacant for months together, it has shortlisted the name of a judge to become the 31st J of the HC.

The collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, has recommended the name of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, who is presently the CJ of the Rajasthan HC. However, his appointment is yet to be confirmed by the Union government.

Incidentally, this recommendation comes days before the retirement of outgoing CJ Naresh Patil of the Bombay HC, who was appointed to the post after a delay of 10 months. Notably, the office of Bombay HC’s CJ was looked after by an acting CJ, for at least 10 months after the retirement of the then CJ Manjula Chellur, who was superannuated on December 5, 2017.

Soon after her retirement, there was no recommendation from the collegium in this regard and the Bombay HC administration was looked after by acting CJs. The collegium named Justice Patil as the 30th CJ on October 24, 2018. ,Thus, to rectify the past, the collegium has finalised the name of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog as the new CJ of the Bombay HC, well in advance.

“The collegium resolves to recommend that Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, Chief Justice, Rajasthan High Court, be transferred, in the interest of better administration of justice, to Bombay High Court,” reads the notification of the collegium, which also includes the four seniormost judges of the top court. Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, was elevated as a judge of the Delhi HC in December 2002 and was elevated as the CJ of Rajasthan HC in March 2017.

Justice Nandrajog was in news in December 2018, when despite recommendation he was not elevated to the Supreme Court and instead two junior judges to him, were appointed in the top court.  This controversial decision (to supersede Justice Nandrajog) had invited criticism from some sitting and retired judges, who even wrote letters to CJI Ranjan Gogoi and also the President of India against the elevation of two junior judges.

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