The Supreme Court Collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana has recommended nine names to the central government on Tuesday for appointment as judges to the apex court. The names include three women judges, along with B V Nagarathna from the Karnataka High Court, who, if elevated, could become the first CJI of the country in 2027.
The names of two other women judges are– Justice Hima Kohli, Chief Justice of the Telangana High Court and Justice Bela Trivedi of the Gujarat High Court, Indian Express reported.
Reportedly, senior advocate PS Narsimha is said to be the Collegium’s first choice for direct elevation to the Supreme Court. His recommendation comes less than a week after the retirement of justice Rohinton F Nariman- the only fifth lawyer in India’s legal history to be directly appointed from the bar.
The list also includes- Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Abhay Oka, along with Justices Vikram Nath and J K Maheshwari – the Chief Justices of Gujarat, and Sikkim High Courts respectively.
Known for his judgments on civil liberties, Justice Oka is the senior-most High Court judge in the country. He made headlines during the Covid-19 pandemic when he passed several orders aimed at the welfare of migrant workers. In most of these cases, Justice Oka was part of the bench along with Justice Nagarathna, who questioned the government’s way of handling the crisis situation.
Similarly, Justice Nath also made headlines after he questioned the government’s handling of the pandemic- he raised several questions on issues including lack of hospital beds and availability of essential drugs, especially during the second Covid-19 wave. He was also the first one to bring the first-ever live telecast of a courtroom, streaming the hearings on the Covid crisis on YouTube.
The list includes other names for elevation- Justice C T Ravikumar, the second most senior judge of the Kerala High Court, and Justice M M Sundaresh, the third most senior judge of the Madras High Court.
The reports, however, have irked CJI Ramana who said he was “extremely upset" and urged the media to be “responsible" in reporting such news.
The top judge said reports on appointments even before any formal announcement are “counterproductive". “The process of appointment of judges is sacrosanct and has certain dignity attached to it. Media friends must understand and recognise the sanctity of this process," the Chief Justice said, speaking at the farewell of a judge, justice Navin Sinha.
“There were instances of deserving career progression of bright talents getting marred because of such irresponsible reporting and speculation. This is very unfortunate and I am extremely upset about it. I appreciate maturity and responsibility displayed by majority of senior journalists and media houses in not speculating on such serious matter," Justice Ramana said.
Asserting that the Supreme Court holds the freedom of media and the rights of individuals in high esteem, Justice Ramana said he expected all stakeholders to uphold the integrity and dignity of this institution.