Karnataka High Court judge BV Nagarathana is set to become India's first female Chief Justice of India in 2027. The development came after the Centre on Thursday appointed nine judges, including three women to the Supreme Court.
Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Vikram Nath and senior advocate PS Narasimha are also in line to become Chief Justices of India. The swearing-in ceremony of the nine judges will mostly take place by August 31, before Telangana High Court Chief Justice Hima Kohli retires on September 1. High Court judges retire at the age of 62, whereas Supreme Court judges retire when they turn 65 years of age.
The five other names cleared for elevation are: Karnataka High Court Chief Justice AS Oka, Sikkim High Court Chief Justice JK Maheshwari, along with Justices CT Ravikumar (Kerala High Court); MM Sundresh (Madras High Court) and Bela M Trivedi (Gujarat High Court)
With the elevation of the nine judges, the supreme court will be one judge short of its sanctioned strength of 34 judges.
The top court collegium led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana on August 17 made its first set of proposals in almost 22 months in a bid to fill up 10 vacant positions. The collegium comprises five senior-most judges which also include Justices UU Lalit, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud, and L Nageswara Rao.
Who is in line to become the Chief Justice of India
Justice UU Lalit, who is the seniormost judge will take over when CJI Ramana retires on August 26, 2022. Justice Lalit will be CJI for barely three months before he retires on November 11, 2022.
Justice DY Chandrachud, follows Justice Lalit, will be CJI for two years till he retires on November 10, 2024. His father CJI YV Chandrachud holds the record as the longest-serving Chief Justice of India with seven years and four months.
Justice Sanjiv Khanna will be the next with a tenure of six months till May 13, 2025.
Justice BR Gavai, who follows, will have a tenure of six months till November 23, 2025. Justice Gavai will become the second Dalit Chief Justice of India after CJI KG Balakrishnan was appointed in 2007.
Justice Surya Kant who becomes CJI in November 2025 will have a tenure of one year and three months till February 9, 2027.
The order and tenure of the three new judges who are touted to become the new chief justices will depend on the order in which they are sworn in as Supreme Court judges. This will dictate their order of seniority and thus the probability of becoming CJIs. However, the likely order will be Justice Vikram Nath (six months), BV Nagarathana (36 days), and senior advocate PS Narasimha (seven months).
The first set of proposals in 22 months
The Supreme Court saw at least four judges retire this year.
CJI SA Bobde who retired earlier this year in March became the only chief justice of India who did not make any recommendations despite his relatively long tenure of almost 17-months.
The collegium's proposal also comes days after Justice RF Nariman retired on August 12. Justice Nariman, who was part of the collegium since March 2019, was the senior-most judge after CJI Ramana at the time of his retirement.
During his tenure, the collegium was allegedly at an impasse over Justice Nariman's insistence to recommend Justices Abhay Oka and Akil Kureshi, Chief Justices of Karnataka and Tripura high courts respectively. Though Chief Justice Oka made it to the list, Justice Kureshi did not.
In 2010, Justice Kureshi, who was a judge with the Gujarat high court at the time, had sent incumbent Union Home Minister Amit Shah to police custody in connection with the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.
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