New Delhi: The Supreme Court collegium has recommended to the Centre the names of four high court chief justices for elevation as judges in the apex court.
The collegium headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising the Supreme Court’s four-senior most judges has recommended the names of justices Hemant Gupta, R Subhash Reddy, M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi to the Centre for their elevation as judges of the top court, as per an October 30 resolution uploaded on the SC’s website.Besides the CJI, the other members of the collegium are justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph, A K Sikri and S A Bobde.
Gupta is currently the chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and Reddy the Gujarat High Court’s chief justice. While Shah is the incumbent chief justice of the Patna High Court, Rastogi is chief justice, Tripura High Court.
“Against the sanctioned strength of 31 judges, the Supreme Court of India is presently functioning with 24 judges, leaving 7 clear vacancies. After extensive discussion and deliberations on a number of occasions, the collegium unanimously resolves to fill up, for the present, four of these vacancies,” the resolution said.
The collegium has discussed names of chief justices as well as senior puisne judges of all high courts, eligible for elevation to the apex court, it said.
“The collegium is of the considered view that at present the following persons (justices Gupta, Reddy, Shah and Rastogi) are more deserving and suitable in all respects than other chief justices and senior puisne judges of high courts, for being appointed as judges of the Supreme Court of India,” the resolution said.
It said while recommending these four names, the collegium has taken into consideration the combined seniority on an all-India basis of chief justices and senior puisne judges of high courts, apart from their merit and integrity.
“The collegium has also kept in mind, while recommending the above names that the high courts of Punjab and Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan have remained unrepresented in the Supreme Court since long,” as per the resolution.
“While considering the name of Justice R Subhash Reddy, the collegium has taken into consideration the fact that at present there is no judge in the Supreme Court from the state of Telangana and he belongs to the state of Telangana,” it said.
Regarding Rastogi, the resolution said while recommending his name, the collegium is well conscious of his senior position in the Rajasthan High Court also.
“Justice Hemant Gupta, Justice R Subhash Reddy, Justice Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah and Justice Ajay Rastogi stand at Sl. Nos. 4, 5, 17 and 25 respectively in the combined seniority of high court judges on an all-India basis,” it said.
This year, two apex court judges – justices Lokur and Kurian Joseph – are set to retire while Justice Sikri would demit office in March 2019.
Gupta was appointed as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on July 2, 2002, and on February 8, 2016, he was transferred to the Patna High Court where he was appointed as the acting chief justice on October 29, 2016.
He was appointed as the chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on March 18 last year.
Reddy was appointed as a judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on December 2, 2002.
He was elevated as the chief justice of the Gujarat High Court on February 13, 2016. Shah was appointed as a judge of the Gujarat High Court on March 7, 2004, and later in August, he was sworn-in as the chief justice of the Patna High Court.
Rastogi was appointed as a judge of the Rajasthan High Court in September 2004 and was elevated as chief justice of the Tripura High Court on March 1 this year.