The government has cleared the Collegium’s December 13, 2022 recommendation to appoint five new judges to the Supreme Court.
Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of Law and Justice, in a Twitter post Saturday evening, said, “As per the provisions under the Constitution of India, Hon’ble President of India has appointed the following Chief Justices and Judges of the High Courts as Judges of the Supreme Court: Justice Pankaj Mithal, Chief Justice, Rajasthan High Court; Justice Sanjay Karol, Chief Justice, Patna High Court; Justice P V Sanjay Kumar, Chief Justice, Manipur High Court; Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah, Judge, Patna High Court; Justice Manoj Misra, Judge, Allahabad High Court. I extend best wishes to all of them.”
Sources told The Sunday Express that the government had approved the recommendations on February 2 and the names were then sent to Rashtrapati Bhavan for appointment.
Once the warrant of appointment is issued, the new judges will be sworn in early next week, sources said.
The decision on the appointment of the judges comes four days after the Collegium, in an unusual move, recommended two more names for appointment as Supreme Court judges. The Collegium usually waits for a file to be cleared before sending more recommendations.
On January 31, the Collegium recommended Justice Rajesh Bindal, Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, and Justice Aravind Kumar, Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court, for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court.
The resolution adopted by the Collegium said the Supreme Court which has a sanctioned strength of 34 Judges is presently functioning with 27 Judges and “there are seven clear vacancies”.
On Friday, the bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka, while hearing a plea by the Advocates Association Bengaluru which sought contempt of court proceedings against the government over the delay in clearing names reiterated by the Collegium, inquired about the status of the seven names recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court.
It questioned Attorney General R Venkataramani who said “it’s happening”, but did not give a specific date. The bench later recorded that it will be done in a maximum of 5 days.
During the hearing, the bench warned the government that any further delay in taking a decision on the transfer of High Court judges recommended by the Collegium “may result in both administrative and judicial actions which may not be palatable”.
The bench told Venkataramani: “Don’t make us take a stand which will be very uncomfortable.”
ENS adds: Former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said the government’s clearance of the five recommendations made by the Collegium for appointment as judges of the apex court “must put to rest apprehensions about an escalating conflict between the Executive and Judiciary on the issue of judicial appointments”.
“The government’s response in the face of an emerging standoff between the two pillars of the Indian State demonstrates that when put to test, those charged with the working of the Constitution can rise to the occasion,” he said.
“Outstanding issues that impact the relationship between the executive and judicial branch need to be constructively addressed through dialogue and discussion between those concerned, rather than through a jarring public debate,” Kumar said.
“While the Collegium system of appointments is today the judicially ordained law of the land and ought not to be tampered with, there can be no impediment for revisiting the mechanism in the light of experience and considering that it rests on the debatable premise that independence of judiciary as part of the Constitution’s basic structure is best secured only when the Judges appoint Judges,” he said.