The Supreme Court collegium headed by CJI N V Ramana has learnt to have recommended eight names of judges, including acting chief justice of Calcutta High Court Justice Rajesh Bindal, for their elevation as chief justices of different high courts.
Besides, the marathon collegium meetings on Thursday and Friday have led to recommendations of transfer of five chief justices, including that of Tripura High Court Chief Justice Akil Kureshi, and 28 other high courts judges, reliable sources told PTI.
Justice Bindal of Calcutta High Court has been in news recently due to his administrative and judicial decisions in matters related to political stand-off between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.
Justice Kureshi, one of the senior-most high court judges in the country, was originally elevated as a judge in the Gujarat High Court and has been in news due to his non-elevation as a judge of the apex court.
The sources said the three-member collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, has decided to recommend names of judges for elevation as chief justices of the high courts of Allahabad, Calcutta, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telengana, Meghalaya, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
They said the three-member collegium, dealing with appointment in high courts, included Justices U U Lalit and A M Khanwilkar and it has recommended transfer of Justice Bindal as the chief justice of Allahabad High Court.
They said the collegium has recommended that Justice Kureshi be transferred to the Rajasthan High Court.
After assuming charge as the CJI in April this year, Justice Ramana has recommended nearly 100 names for appointment to different high courts, sources said.
The 25 high courts of the country have a combined sanctioned strength of 1,080 judges and on May 1, 2021, the high courts were functioning with 420 judges only. The series of recommendations have been made close on the heels of a historic decision to recommend 68 names in one go for judgeship in 12 high courts across the country.
Prior to that, in a historic decision on August 17, the five-member Collegium headed by the CJI had recommended nine names, including three women, for elevation as judges of the Supreme Court.
The names were cleared with significant pace by the Centre leading to swearing-in ceremony on August 31 when the new judges were administered oath of office as apex court judges.
The fresh recommendations assume significance in view of the statement made by the CJI in a recent function of the Bar Council of India that it has been his endeavour to address the issue of vacancies in the higher judiciary on an "urgent basis".
The CJI had said during the function that in another month, he expected that 90 percent of vacancies will be filled. The sources said the collegium has decided to recommend transfer of five chief justices and 28 other high court judges to other high courts.
"The decision on major reshuffle and appointment of chief justices in high courts have taken place following marathon meetings," a reliable source told PTI, adding that meetings in this regard took place on Thursday and Friday.
The collegium decisions, containing the names and details of the judges, are yet to be uploaded on the apex court's website, the source said.
The sources said besides Justice Qureshi, the collegium has recommended transfer of chief justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court Justice Arup Kumar Goswami to the Chhattisgarh High Court, chief justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court Justice Mohd Rafiq to the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
They said the collegium has recommended transfer of chief justice of Rajasthan High Court Justice Indrajit Mahanty to the Tripura High Court and Meghalaya High Court chief justice Justice Biswanath Somadder to the Sikkim High Court.
Besides Justice Bindal, the Collegium has recommended names of Justices Prakash Srivastava, Prashant Kumar Mishra, Ritu Raj Awasthi, Satish Chandra Sharma, Ranjit V More, Aravind Kumar and R V Malimath for appointing them as chief justices of different high courts across the country, the sources said.
They said names of Justices Prakash Srivastava, Prashant Kumar Mishra and Ritu Raj Awasthi have been recommended for appointment as chief justices of high courts of Calcutta, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Similarly, names of Justices Satish Chandra Sharma, Ranjit V More, Aravind Kumar and R V Malimath have been recommended for appointing them as chief justices of high courts of Telangana, Meghalaya, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, they said.
The recommendations by the collegium have been made close on the heels of a historic decision to recommend 68 names in one go for judgeship in 12 high courts across the country.
Recently, the collegium had recommended 10 names to the Centre for appointment as permanent judges in the Karnataka High Court.
The CJI, while speaking at a recent function of the Bar Council of India, had referred to nine appointments in one go in the apex court bench and said, “Similarly, after I took over, the Collegium has recommended, if I am not wrong, 82 names to various high courts.”
"I hope the government will ensure that the names are cleared at the earliest just the way the nine names were cleared for the apex court. It is an ongoing process. We hope to live up to the herculean challenge of filling nearly 41 percent vacancies existing in all the high courts,” he had said.
(With PTI inputs)