Four Supreme Court judges sworn in; strength reaches 34

Satya Prakash

Indiatimesworld News Service

New Delhi, September 23

Four new judges were on Monday sworn in as judges of the Supreme Court, taking its strength to 34 — the highest ever since it came into existence in 1950.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi administered the oath of office to Justice Krishna Murari, Justice S Ravindra Bhat, Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice Krishikesh Roy at a simple ceremony attended by judges, lawyers and others in Court No. 1 of the Supreme Court.

Family members of some of the judges were also present during the oath ceremony.

President Ram Nath Kovind had on September 18 signed warrants of appointment of the four judges for their elevation to the top court.

The Supreme Court Collegium of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Rohinton F Nariman had last month approved the four names for elevation to the top court.

Justice Murari and Justice Ramasubramanian had taken over as CJ of Punjab and Haryana High Court and Himachal Pradesh High Court, respectively, in June while Justice Bhat has been functioning as Rajasthan CJ Since May this year. Justice Roy has been the CJI of Kerala High Court for a year.

The Collegium recommendation follows passage of “The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill, 2019” by Parliament earlier this month to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from 30 to 33, excluding the CJI, with a view to reduce pendency of cases which touched 59,696 on July 1, 2019.

CJI Ranjan Gogoi had in June this year written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to increase the strength of judges in view of increasing pendency of cases in the top court due to filing of more fresh cases.

The CJI had also written about increasing the retirement age of high court judges from 62 years to 65 years but the government hasn’t acted upon this suggestion.

The CJI had highlighted that due to paucity of judges, the required number of Constitution Benches to decide important cases involving questions of law were not being set up.

“You would recall that way back in 1988, about three decades ago, the judge strength of the SC was increased from 18 to 26, and then again after two decades in 2009, it was increased to 31, including the CJI, to expedite disposal of cases to keep pace with the rate of institution,” the CJI had written.

“I request you to kindly consider, on top priority, to augment the judge-strength in the SC appropriately so that it can function more efficiently and effectively as it will go a long way to attain ultimate goal of rendering timely justice to the litigant public,” Justice Gogoi had written to the PM.

The original Constitution of 1950 envisaged a Supreme Court with eight judges, including the CJI, leaving it to Parliament to increase the sanctioned strength of judges. As the arrears of cases began to cumulate, Parliament increased the number of Judges from 8 in 1950 to 11 in 1956, 14 in 1960, 18 in 1978 and 26 in 1986.