SC Back To Its Full Strength of 34
Justices Prashant Kumar Mishra and K.V. Viswanathan received their oaths of office from Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud on Friday, restoring the court to its full sanctioned strength of 34 judges.
How are Judges in the Supreme Court appointed?
- According to clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution, the President appoints the Chief Justice of India and the judges of the Supreme Court.
- The seniormost Supreme Court judge deemed qualified to serve in the position should be appointed as India’s Chief Justice. When the time is right, the Union Minister of Law, Justice, and Corporate Affairs will request the retiring Chief Justice of India’s recommendation for the selection of the new Chief Justice of India.
- The next Chief Justice of India will be chosen after consultation with other judges as provided for in Article 124 (2) of the Constitution if there is any uncertainty regarding the senior-most Judge’s eligibility to serve in that capacity.
- After receiving the Chief Justice of India’s recommendation, the Union Minister of Law, Justice, and Corporate Affairs will forward it to the Prime Minister, who will counsel the President on the appointment.
JUDGES OF THE SUPREME COURT
- The Union Minister of Law, Justice, and Corporate Affairs would receive the Chief Justice of India’s request and recommendation to replace the vacancy whenever a vacancy is anticipated in the position of a Supreme Court judge.
- The Chief Justice of India shall consult with a collegium made up of the Supreme Court’s four most senior puisne judges before forming an opinion regarding the appointment of a judge to the high court. The collegium would include the successor Chief Justice of India if he is not one of the four seniormost puisne Judges since he should be involved in choosing the judges who will serve during his tenure as Chief Justice of India.
- The Chief Justice of India will seek the opinions of the seniormost Supreme Court judge from the High Court where the recommended candidate is from, but if that judge is unaware of the recommended candidate’s merits and shortcomings, the next seniormost Supreme Court judge from that High Court should be consulted.
- The necessity of consultation with a Supreme Court Judge would not be limited to those Judges who have that High Court as a parent High Court, and as a result, it would not disqualify Judges who have, upon transfer, held the position of a Judge or Chief Justice of that High Court.
- The Chief Justice of India, in all cases, must transmit his opinion as well as the opinion of all concerned to the Government of India as part of the record. Members of the collegium will express their opinions regarding each recommendation in writing, as will the seniormost Supreme Court Judge from the High Court from which a prospective candidate hails. If the Chief Justice of India or another member of the Collegium seeks opinions, especially from non-judges, the consultation need not be in writing, but the person who seeks the opinion should make a memo outlining its general points and send it to the Indian government.
- The Union Minister of Law, Justice, and Corporate Affairs will submit the Chief Justice of India’s final proposal to the Prime Minister, who will then advise the President on the appointment.
- A certificate of physical fitness certified by a Civil Surgeon or a District Medical Officer must be obtained from the individual chosen and given to the Chief Justice of India as soon as the appointment is authorised, according to the Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Justice. All individuals chosen for appointment, whether or not they are currently employed by the State at the time of appointment, must provide a medical certificate. The certificate must be in the format shown in the annexe.
- The Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Justice will make the announcement and publish the required notification in the Gazette of India as soon as the President signs the warrant of appointment.
Points to Ponder:
- On May 19, 2023, Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud took the oath of office on behalf of Justices Prashant Kumar Mishra and K.V. Viswanathan.
- With this appointment, the Supreme Court of India’s sanctioned strength of 34 judges was restored.
- In a blink of an eye, the government approved Justices Mishra and Viswanathan’s appointments. On May 16, the Collegium made a recommendation for their appointment to the Supreme Court. The government’s announcements were released on May 18, which also happened to be Arjun Ram Meghwal’s first day of work as the new law minister.
- When the time comes, Justice Viswanathan will succeed Justice J.B. Pardiwala as the supreme court’s 58th Chief Justice of India in August 2030. This suggests that he might serve as Chief Justice in the future.