At present, six posts of judges are vacant in the Supreme Court and there will be a total of seven vacancies in the Supreme Court once Chief Justice UU Lalit retires on November 8. Not only this, if the posts of judges in the Supreme Court are not filled soon, three more posts will become vacant in the next six months due to the retirement of the judges, which will increase the total number of vacancies to ten. However, the Supreme Court Collegium has sent a recommendation to the government to elevate Bombay High Court Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta to the Supreme Court.
If the vacant posts of judges are not filled soon, then three more posts will become vacant in the next six months.
The total sanctioned posts of judges in the Supreme Court including the Chief Justice are 34. At present there are 28 judges working in the Supreme Court and six posts are vacant. CJI UU Lalit is retiring on November 8. After the retirement of Justice Lalit, the number of vacant posts will increase to seven. After Justice Lalit, on January 4, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer will retire. Then in May, two more judges, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, will retire on May 14 and Justice MR Shah on May 15.
The recommendation for the appointment of Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Dipankar Dutta as a judge of the Supreme Court has already been done.
In June next month, three judges Justice KM Joseph will retire on June 16, Justice Ajay Rastogi on June 17 and Justice V. Ram Subramaniam on June 29. Then on July 8, Justice Krishna Murari will retire. By then, if new judges are not appointed, the vacancies in the Supreme Court will increase to 14. However, there is every possibility of new judges coming in the meantime. The Supreme Court Collegium, in its meeting held on September 26, has sent a recommendation to the government to appoint Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Dipankar Dutta as a judge of the Supreme Court.
The process of appointment of some more judges got stuck in the middle.
Apart from this, CJI UU Lalit had also started the process of early appointment of some more judges in view of the vacant posts of judges in the Supreme Court, but the effort got stuck in the middle. After the collegium meeting on 26 September agreed to elevate Justice Dipankar Dutta to the Supreme Court, the collegium meeting was postponed till 4.30 pm on 30 September to discuss some more names, but the collegium meeting could not be held on 30 September. Pai because Justice DY Chandrachud, a member of the collegium, was not available at the meeting. That day his court continued till late in the evening.
Objection to the circular process adopted in the appointment of judges
Due to this, CJI UU Lalit sent the proposal for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court on 30 September itself through a circular to the judges of the Collegium for their opinion. Collegium member Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul sent letters of approval to the CJI on October 1 and Justice KM Joseph on October 7, but Justices DY Chandrachud and S. Abdul Nazeer raised an objection to the circular procedure followed in the appointment of judges.
The Collegium is expected to meet only after November 9 and proceed with the process.
A few days later, CJI Lalit received a letter from the Law Minister, requesting him to recommend the name of the successor. In this way, the process of appointment of judges in the Supreme Court has been postponed for the time being. Now after the appointment of Justice DY Chandrachud as Chief Justice, that is, only after November 9, the collegium is expected to meet and proceed with the process. However, the collegium will also undergo changes and Justice MR Shah will join the five-member collegium after Justice Lalit retires.