In a first for the top court in a span of 11 years, the Supreme Court of India is functioning without a single Muslim judge.
According to a report in The Indian Express, this is only the second instance in nearly three decades that the Muslim community has no representation among Supreme Court judges.
The report says that the two Muslim judges - Justice M Y Eqbal and Justice Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla - appointed to the SC bench in 2012 have retired on February 2 and July 22 respectively this year.
After their retirement, the Supreme Court is left with no Muslim judge and the wait for the next judge from this community could get longer because of the ongoing tussle between the executive and the judiciary over the procedure for appointment of judges.
Expressing concern over the apex court not having any representation from Muslim community, former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan said that the Supreme Court needs proper representation of all religions, castes and regions.
“Hope it gets a Muslim judge soon. It’s not a question of their rights being denied, it’s a question of proper representation of all religions, castes and regions at the apex court. In many countries, special provisions are made to ensure the proper representation of all regions, religions and communities at the national court,” Justice K G Balakrishnan told The Indian Express.
The reports also points out that presently two High Courts – Bihar and Himachal Pradesh - have Muslim chief justices.
While Bihar’s Chief Justice Iqbal Ahmed Ansari, a resident of Assam, retires in October 2017, Himachal’s Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir, a resident of J&K, will retire in April 2017.
A High Court judge retires at the age of 62 while a Supreme Court judge retires at 65. The SC has a maximum strength of 31 judges but is presently functioning with 28 judges only.