New Delhi: The Supreme Court collegium Monday headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud recommended the appointment of three high court chief justices as judges to the apex court, saying that in view of the ever-mounting pendency of cases, the workload of judges has increased considerably and it has become necessary to ensure that the court has full working judge-strength.
The collegium, also comprising justices S K Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai, and Suya Kant, said the apex court has a sanctioned strength of thirty-four Judges and is presently functioning with thirty-one Judges and it has a huge backlog of cases. The collegium stressed that in view of the ever-mounting pendency of cases, the workload of judges has increased considerably and bearing that in mind, it has become necessary to ensure that the court has full working judge-strength leaving no vacancy at any point of time.
After carefully evaluating the merit, integrity and competence of eligible chief justices and senior puisne Judges of the high courts and also accommodating a plurality of considerations, the collegium recommended: Justice Satish Chandra Sharma, chief justice, High Court of Delhi (parent high court: Madhya Pradesh); Justice Augustine George Masih, chief justice, Rajasthan High Court (PHC: Punjab & Haryana); and , Justice Sandeep Mehta, chief justice, Gauhati High Court, (PHC: Rajasthan).
The collegium said it has considered the seniority of chief justices and senior puisne judges in their respective parent high courts as well as overall seniority of the high court judges. “The need to ensure diversity and inclusion in the Supreme Court by: (i) representation of High Courts which are not represented or are inadequately represented, in the Supreme Court; (ii) appointment of persons from marginalized and backward segments of society; (iii) gender diversity; and (iv) representation of minorities”, said the collegium, in its resolution dated November 6.
The collegium said judgments authored by those falling in the zone of consideration for elevation to the Supreme Court were circulated among the members of the collegium, well in advance, for a meaningful discussion on and assessment of their judicial acumen. “The Centre for Research & Planning of the Supreme Court has prepared a compilation of relevant background material to assist the Collegium”, it said.
Justice Satish Chandra Sharma was appointed as a Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on 18 January 2008. He was elevated as Chief Justice of the High Court for the State of Telangana on 11 October 2021 and thereafter transferred to High Court of Delhi on 28 June 2022. Justice Sharma has served as a judge of the High Court for more than 15 years and as Chief Justice of the high court for more than 2 years. The judgments authored by him dealing with issues in various branches of law stand testimony to his legal acumen and competence. Justice Sharma stands at serial No. 2 in the combined all India seniority of high court judges. In the seniority of Judges hailing from Madhya Pradesh High Court, Justice Sharma stands at serial No. The collegium said it is aware of the fact that at present, the bench of the Supreme Court is represented by one judge from the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
Mr. Justice A G Masih was appointed as a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on 10 July 2008. He was elevated as Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court on 30 May 2023. During his long tenure as a judge of the high court Justice Masih has acquired significant experience in diverse fields of law and he stands at serial No. 7 in the combined all India seniority of high court Judges, and in the seniority of judges hailing from the High Court of Punjab & Haryana, he stands at serial No.1. “He belongs to a minority community. While recommending his name, the Collegium is aware of the fact that at present, the Bench of the Supreme Court is represented by 2 Judges from the Punjab & Haryana High Court”, said the collegium.
Justice Sandeep Mehta was appointed as a judge of the Rajasthan High Court on 30 May 2011 and having attained seniority in his parent high court he was elevated as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court and is serving there since 15 February 2023.
“Mr. Justice Mehta stands at Sl. No. 23 in the combined all India seniority of High Court Judges. In the seniority of Judges hailing from the High Court of Rajasthan, he stands at Sl. No.1. Apart from according representation to the State of Rajasthan, the appointment of Mr Justice Mehta will provide a value addition in terms of his acquired knowledge and experience”, said the collegium.