Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Wednesday criticised “speculative media reports” about the Supreme Court Collegium recommending nine names to the Centre for appointment as judges to the top court, Bar and Bench reported,
Ramana said the names of the judges had not yet been finalised and that he was “extremely upset” about the speculation.
“The process of appointment is ongoing,” the chief justice said, according to Bar and Bench. “It is a sacrosanct process. My media friends should understand this sacrosanct process. Today’s report before finalising the process is counter productive. Careers get marred due to irresponsible reporting.”
According to a report in The Indian Express, the Collegium’s recommendations included the names of three women. With this, Justice BV Nagarathna of the Karnataka High Court could become the first woman Chief Justice of India in 2027.
The other two women judges reportedly named in the list of recommendations are Telangana High Court Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Bela Trivedi of the Gujarat High Court.
Among the six other names recommended for elevation are Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Abhay Oka, his Gujarat counterpart Justices Vikram Nath and Sikkim High Court Chief Justice JK Maheshwari.
Justice CT Ravikumar, the second senior-most judge of the Kerala High Court, and Justice MM Sundaresh of the Madras High Court are also named in the list, according to The Indian Express.
Former Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha is the Bar member who has been recommended for elevation. The senior advocate has appeared in several important matters, including the Ram Janmabhoomi case.
This is the first time in 22 months that the Collegium, headed by Ramana, has sent a recommendation list to the government. This came days after Justice Rohinton Nariman, the second-most senior judge, retired from the Supreme Court. Justice Nariman had been a member of the Collegium since March 2019.
If all the recommendations are accepted by the Centre, the Supreme Court’s will have a working strength of 33 judges. The five-member Collegium includes Ramana, Justices UU Lalit, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao.
Women in judiciary
If Nagarathna becomes the first woman Chief Justice of India, it will be a historic moment for the country’s judiciary. There have been demands to have a woman Chief Justice in India.
Before his retirement, former Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had said that it was high time for a woman to become the chief justice of India. He, however, had added that the Collegium faced difficulties in the appointments because the women refuse to become judges.
During a hearing on a plea to increase the number of women judges, advocate Shobha Gupta had said that only 11% of judges in India were women.
The Supreme Court Women Lawyers Association had said that the representation of women in the Supreme Court was “abysmally low”. It said that only eight women judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court and there have been no woman Chief Justice of India.
The association’s plea said that out of 25 High Courts, only one has a woman as its chief justice. Hima Kohli is the Chief Justice of Telangana High Court. In five High Courts – Patna, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura and Uttarakhand, there is not even a single woman judge.