With the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) expected to replace it soon, the Supreme Court collegium has made what could be one of its last appointments by recommending Orissa Chief Justice Amitava Roy for elevation as a judge of the apex court.
The collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu, sent its recommendation to the Law Ministry last week following a relatively long meeting, which also discussed the names of at least five other high court judges for elevation.
According to sources, apart from Justice Roy, the names of the chief justices of the high courts of Madras, Madhya Pradesh, Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi were also discussed. But only one name was approved for recommendation because the collegium failed to arrive at a consensus on the rest, they added.
A major objection to two names related to their region already having adequate representation on the Supreme Court bench, sources said. As for the third name, there were representations from a few lawyers opposing the elevation, they added.
The Supreme Court has an approved strength of 31 judges. According to the Department of Justice, there were three vacancies for judges as on February 1, 2015, with one more coming up following the scheduled retirement of Justice S J Mukhopadhaya in March.
The collegium’s recommendation comes close on the heels of Union Law Minister Sadananda Gowda clarifying that there was no stalemate in appointing judges till the NJAC was constituted.
The NJAC will be a six-member body, headed by the Chief Justice of India, that will also include the two senior-most Supreme Court judges, Union Minister of Law and Justice and two “eminent persons” nominated by another panel comprising the Prime Minister, CJI and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha or leader of the largest opposition party in the Lower House.
Justice Amitava Roy was appointed Chief Justice of Orissa High Court last July after its former chief justice Adarsh Kumar Goel was elevated to the Supreme Court.
Born in 1953 in Kolkata, Justice Roy completed his LLB from Dibrugarh University in 1976 before practising at district courts in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. He later shifted to Guwahati, where he practised in Gauhati High Court and the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT).
He was elevated as Judge of the Gauhati High Court in 2002 and was appointed as Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court in January 2013.