The Supreme Court Collegium has recommended elevation of three High Court Chief Justices and a senior lawyer to the apex court, the first since a new law on appointment of judges to higher judiciary was struck down by the top court.
This is the first set of recommendations made by the SC Collegium for appointment as judges of the apex court after the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act came into force on April 13 last. The new law which sought to scrap the collegium system was struck down by a Supreme Court bench on October 16 last.
The Collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur, has recommended the elevation of Justice A M Khanwilkar of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Justice D Y Chandrachud of the Allahabad High Court and Justice Ashok Bhushan of the Kerala High Court to the Supreme court.
The Collegium has also recommended senior lawyer and former Additional Solicitor General L Nageshwar Rao for appointment as a Supreme Court judge.
Meanwhile, Acting Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh/ Telangana High Court Justice D B Bhonsle has been recommended for the post of Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court in place of Justice Chandrachud.
These recommendations assume importance as the Supreme Court is functioning with only 25 judges though its approved strength is 31, including the CJI.
While Justice Thakur will retire on January 3, 2017, five more apex court judges will retire this year. These include Justice A R Dave who will retire on November 18, Justice F M I Kalifulla (July 22), Justice V Gopala Gowda (October 5), Justice Shiva Kirti Singh (November 12) and Justice C Nagappan (October 3).
Former law officer Nageshwar Rao is the fourth member from
the Bar recommended for Supreme Court judgeship by the collegium after the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014.
In 2014, U U Lalit and R F Nariman were appointed as SC judges, but the government had returned the file of former Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium citing negative Intelligence Bureau report.
After a bitter spat with the government, Subramanium had withdrawn his name.
The recommendations come at a time when the Supreme Court collegium is yet to give its view on the draft of the revised memorandum of procedure to the government. So far, the collegium had refrained from recommending names for the apex court.
Hitherto, it had recommended elevating additional judges of high courts as permanent judges. The government, in a bid to increase the judges' strength, had cleared fresh names for appointment as additional judges, the recommendations for which were received before the NJAC Act was struck down by the Supreme Court.
The memorandum, a document which guides the appointment of SC and HC judges, was revised after a Supreme Court bench asked the government to rewrite it in a bid to make collegium system more transparent.