In less than eight months, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi would have sworn in 10 new judges in the Supreme Court – a feat rarely achieved by any of his predecessors. Not only this, for the first time in recent decades the top court will have achieved its maximum strength of 31 judges.
On Wednesday, the central government cleared the appointment of four new judges to the Supreme Court after accepting the recommendations of the Collegium headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
The appointments of Justices BR Gavai, Surya Kant, Aniruddha Bose and AS Bopanna have been notified by the President as well and their oath-taking ceremony is expected to take place on Thursday or Friday.
Justice Gogoi took over as the CJI on October 3, 2018. The first set of recommendations by the Collegium, presided over by him, had come on October 30 last year. Within the next 48 hours, the government paved the way for the appointments of Justices Hemant Gupta, Subhash Reddy, MR Shah and Ajay Rastogi.
The speed with which the government cleared these appointments, Justice Gogoi then said, had “surprised” him as well. And why not since Justice Joseph’s elevation had not so long ago triggered a protracted standoff between the government and the judiciary. After expressing much reluctance over six months, the government had finally notified Justice Joseph’s appointment to the Supreme Court in August 2018.
In January, the Collegium recommended the names of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna for appointment as judges of the top court. This time again, the government acted swiftly and on January 16, both names were cleared for elevation.
After these six appointments, four vacancies were left to be filled out of the approved strength of 31 judges in the apex court.
The Collegium subsequently recommended Justices Bose and Bopanna on April 12. But the government on May 7 returned these recommendations, urging the Collegium to reconsider the names over issues of seniority.
But on May 10, CJI Gogoi and the four other senior-most judges in the Collegium put their foot down and reiterated these two names for elevation, besides making fresh recommendations for the appointment of Justices Surya Kant and Gavai.
On May 22, the government cleared all four names. The new judges will be administered the oath of office by CJI Gogoi, who will have an extraordinary milestone of overseeing 10 appointments in the top court and taking the number of the judges to its maximum sanctioned strength after decades.