The Supreme Court Collegium on Tuesday recommended to the Centre the names of Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Aravind Kumar for elevation as apex court judges. While all six members of the Collegium, led by CJI DY Chandrachud, were unanimous in recommending the name of Justice Bindal, Justice K M Joseph had reservation on the name of Justice Kumar, according to a resolution uploaded on the apex court website.
The apex court, which has a sanctioned strength of 34 judges including the CJI, is functioning with 27 Judges presently.
“The resolution of the Collegium in regard to the appointment of Mr Justice Rajesh Bindal, Chief Justice of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, is unanimous. However, in regard to the appointment of Mr Justice Aravind Kumar, Chief Justice of the High Court of Gujarat, Justice K M Joseph has expressed his reservations on the ground that his name can be considered at a later stage,” the resolution said.
Besides the CJI and Justice Joseph, the Collegium also comprises Justices S K Kaul, M R Shah, Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna.
The Collegium had on December 13 recommended five judges — Justice Pankaj Mithal, Chief Justice, Rajasthan High Court; Justice Sanjay Karol, Chief Justice, Patna High Court; Justice P V Sanjay Kumar, Chief Justice, Manipur High Court; Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, Judge, Patna High Court; and 5. Justice Manoj Misra, Judge, Allahabad High Court — for elevation to the apex court.
The Centre is yet to accept and notify these names, and the Collegium clarified on Tuesday these judges “shall have precedence over these two names recommended presently for appointment to the Supreme Court”.
“Therefore, the appointments of five judges recommended on December 13, 2022 should be notified separately and earlier in point of time before the two judges recommended by this resolution,” the Collegium said on Tuesday.
In its meeting held on Tuesday, the Collegium said, it deliberated on the names of chief justices and senior puisne judges of high courts eligible for appointment to the Supreme Court.
“Judgments authored by those falling in the zone of consideration for elevation to the Supreme Court were circulated among the members of the Collegium for a meaningful discussion on and assessment of their judicial acumen,” it said.
The four-page resolution said the Collegium carefully evaluated the merit, integrity and competence of “eligible Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges of the High Courts”.
The Collegium also took note of the facts regarding “accommodating a plurality of considerations” while deciding the names of Justice Bindal and Justice Aravind Kumar for judgeship in the apex court.
Justice Bindal was appointed as a Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on March 22, 2006 and became the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court on October 11, 2021. “Mr Justice Bindal stands at Serial No. 02 in the combined All-India-seniority of High Court Judges. He is the senior most Judge hailing from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
“While recommending his name, the Collegium has taken into consideration the fact that the Punjab and Haryana High Court which is one of the largest High Courts with a sanctioned strength of eighty-five judges is not adequately represented on the Bench of the Supreme Court. The High Court of Punjab and Haryana is a common High Court for two States,” the resolution said. Justice Aravind Kumar was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Karnataka High Court on June 26, 2009 and was made a permanent Judge on December 7, 2012.
“He was elevated as Chief Justice of the High Court of Gujarat on 13 October 2021. Mr Justice Aravind Kumar stands at Sl. No.26 in the combined All-India-seniority of High Court Judges,” the resolution said.
While recommending his name, the Collegium is “conscious of the fact that in the seniority of Judges hailing from the Karnataka High Court, Mr Justice Aravind Kumar stands at Sl. No.02”, it said, adding that at present, the apex court is represented by two Judges from the Karnataka High Court.
The resolution said while recommending the two names, the Collegium has taken into consideration the seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges in their respective parent High Courts as well as overall seniority of the High Court Judges. The resolution said there was a need to ensure diversity and inclusion in the Supreme Court by ensuring “the representation of High Courts which are not represented or are inadequately represented” in the top court. It said the Collegium, besides gender diversity and representation of minorities, also considered that “persons from marginalized and backward segments of society” are recommended for judgeship.
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