Appointment of judges in 12 HCs
SC collegium recommends 68 names to Centre
New Delhi: In an unprecedented decision, the Supreme Court Collegium headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) N V Ramana has recommended as many as 68 names in one go for appointment as judges in 12 high courts, including in Allahabad, Rajasthan and Calcutta, that are facing a severe crunch of judges.
The three-member Collegium, of which Justices U U Lalit and Justice A M Khanwilkar are also members, has created yet another first as Marli Vankung becomes the first woman judicial officer from Mizoram whose name has been sent to the Centre for judgeship in the Gauhati High Court, sources told PTI.
Marli Vankun is also a member of the Scheduled Tribe community, they said, adding that besides her, nine other women candidates have been recommended for judgeship in various high courts.
The collegiums, in its meetings held on August 25 and September 1, considered as many as 112 candidates for elevation as judges in high courts.
“Among those 68 cleared for twelve high courts, 44 are from the Bar and 24 are from the judicial service,” they said.
Sixty-eight judges, if cleared by the Centre, will be appointed in high courts at Allahabad, Rajasthan, Calcutta, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Madras, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Assam.
These names have been recommended close on the heels of the Collegium recommending seven names for the Telangana High Court on August 17 this year.
In a historic decision on August 17, the five-member Collegium headed by the CJI had recommended nine names for elevation as judges of the Supreme Court, including three women.
The names were cleared with significant pace by the Centre leading to a historic swearing-in ceremony on August 31 when the new judges were administered oath of office as apex court judges.
They included Justices Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, Vikram Nath, Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari, Hima Kohli and B V Nagarathna.
Besides, the CJI also administered oath of office to Justices C T Ravikumar, M M Sundresh, Bela M Trivedi and P S Narasimha, who was a senior advocate and former additional solicitor general.
Meanwhile, expressing concern over the low presence of women in the judiciary, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana said that “with great difficulty”, the Supreme Court has achieved a mere 11 percent representation of women on its bench.
The apex court presently has four women judges among the 33 sitting judges.
Highlighting that majority of women advocates struggle within the profession, the CJI said after 75 years of independence, one would expect at least 50 percent representation for women at all levels.
“Very few women find representation at the top. Even when they do, they still continue to face significant challenges.
“After 75 years of independence, one would expect at least 50 percent representation for women at all levels, but I must admit, with great difficulty we have now achieved a mere 11 percent representation of women on the bench of the Supreme Court,” Justice Ramana said at a function organised by the Bar Council of India to felicitate him.
He said some states, because of reservation policy, may reveal higher representation but the reality remains that the legal profession still has to “welcome women into its fold”.
The apex court presently has four women judges — Justices Indira Banerjee, Hima Kohli, B V Nagarathna and Bela M Trivedi.
History was created in the apex court on August 31 as for the first time nine judges, including three women, took oath of office at one go.
The strength of the top court has now risen to 33, including the CJI, out of the sanctioned strength of 34.
Justice Nagarathna is in line to be the first woman CJI in September 2027.
Sending a message to the young members of the bar, the CJI said at the function that they should never forget the age-old values of this noble profession and respect women colleagues.
“Seniority has immense value in this profession. Give due regards to your seniors at the bar for their experience, knowledge and wisdom.
“Respect women colleagues and treat them with dignity. Respect the institution and the judges. You are the front line of the legal system, and you must protect the institution from targeted, motivated and mala fide attacks. It is inherent to the bar that it speaks up for what is fair and just, he said.
Among those who attended the event were Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, several sitting judges of the apex court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and office bearers and members of several bar bodies from across the country.
The Supreme Court, which came into being on January 26, 1950, has seen very few women judges since its inception.
Prior to the appointment of Justices Kohli, Nagarathna and Trivedi, only eight women, starting with Justice M Fathima Beevi in 1989, have been made judges of the top court.