The Centre has cleared four names recommended by the Supreme Court Collegium for elevation as judges of the apex court. With their appointment, the Supreme Court will reach its full sanctioned judicial strength of 31 judges.
Initial disagreement between Government and Collegium
The Centre has cleared the names of Jharkhand High Court and Gauhati High Court Chief Justices Aniruddha Bose and A.S. Bopanna. On April 12, Collegium recommended the names of these two judges for elevation. Government requested the Collegium to reconsider the name of these judges. On May 8, the Collegium refused the government’s request to reconsider its recommendation.
The Collegium had reiterated its recommendation of Justices Bose and Bopanna in the face of the government’s initial reluctance. It re-sent the files of the two judges to the government saying there was nothing adverse found in their conduct, competence or integrity. This had made it binding on the government to clear their appointments.
Appointment of other 2 judges
The government also approved Collegium’s May 8 recommendation of Justice B.R. Gavai, a judge of the Bombay High Court, and Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court Surya Kant for elevation.
Basis of elevation of Justice Gavai
The Collegium had explained its recommendation of Justices Gavai and Kant as an attempt to provide “due representation”, as far as possible, to all High Courts and to all sections of society including those belonging to the SC/ST/OBC categories, women and minorities.
Justice Gavai superseded three judges in the Bombay High Court. The Collegium reasoned that though seniority ought to be given due weightage, merit is the “predominant consideration”. Representation for the SC/ST category seems to have played in the mind of the Collegium while recommending his elevation.
Controversy over Justice Kant appointment
Justice Kant had been the subject of controversy over a letter written by Justice (now retired) A.K. Goel to then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Justice Goel, then an apex court judge, had disagreed with the proposal to elevate Justice Kant as Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court. However, the Misra Collegium, in a notification dated October 3, went ahead with his elevation.