On Tuesday, a record, nine judges took an oath to become part of the panel of Supreme Court judges in India. The nine esteemed judges are Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka, Justice Vikram Nath, Justice Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari, Justice Hima Kohli, Justice B. V. Nagarathna, Justice C. T. Ravikumar, Justice M. M. Sundresh, Justice Bela M. Trivedi and Justice P. S. Narasimha. The Top Court judges are currently headed by CJI N.V. Ramana.
The last swearing-in was back in 2019. In 2021, five judges retired- opening up ten vacancies in the panel. The recommendation of these nine judges took place on August 17, putting an end to the 22-months break since the previous appointment of judges to the apex court. Normally, the swearing-in takes place at the office of the Chief Justice. However, unlike previous oath ceremonies, this one was carried out in the auditorium located in the additional building complex of the Supreme Court. According to a press release by the Court, this was done to follow COVID-19 restrictions.
The ceremony is usually held privately, but this time around, this historic event was live telecasted. The number of judges rose to an all-time high of 33 with 34 being the sanctioned limit.
Of the nine judges, three are also in line to be the next CJI. These judges are Nath, Nagarathna and Narasimha. The current CJI will be stepping down by the end of August next year. It is a legal provision in India that all judges must step down by the age of 65 years.
A Big Step Towards Diversity
The event also saw the greatest number of female judges come aboard, increasing the current number of women judges from one to four. One of the female judges, Justice B. V. Nagarathna of the Karnataka High Court is in line to be India’s first female Chief Justice in 2027. The recommendations this year were made keeping in mind the issues of diversity and representation in the panel. Another first was marked by the appointment of SC and OBC judges – Justice C.T. Sivakumar and Justice M.M. Sundaresh respectively. Advocate Namit Saxena took a detailed analysis of the gender and caste diversity in the apex court. Saxena had this to say to The Print:
“OBC had no representation till 1980 and even after most of the OBC judges have come from the southern part. There has been only one OBC judge from the north and that is Justice BS Chauhan.”
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