The first round of elevations to the Supreme Court this year has already commenced, with theTimes of India reporting the elevation of Chief Justice RK Agrawal (Madras) and Chief Justice Ramana (Delhi) to the Apex Court. As per the report, the formal notification is expected within the next two weeks.
With close to half the current Supreme Court Bench due to retire this year, these elevations were not altogether expected. However, it is yet to be seen when these appointments will come into place. Justice Gokhale shall retire in March this year, followed by Chief Justice Sathasivam on April 26 and Justice GS Mishra a day later.
Both Chief Justice RK Aggarwal and Ramana have been in the news in the recent past.
In fact, Chief Justice Agrawal had only recently attracted the ire of sitting Madras High Court judge, J. CS Karnan. Alleging “discrimination without any reason”, J. Karnan recently approached the Commission for Scheduled Castes against Chief Justice RK Agrawal. The Madras Chief Justice, in turn, had written to the Chief Justice of India, seeking the transfer of J. Karnan from the High Court.
These allegations and counter-allegations came at a time when the Madras High Court was hearing a writ challenging the recommendation of lawyers for elevation to the Bench. Although a Division Bench of the High Court passed interim orders, the matter was subsequently transferred to the Supreme Court. However, with the original petitioner then seeking to withdraw the petition, the status of the petition remains unclear.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Ramana, who was transferred to the Delhi High Court in August last year made headlines when a petition was filed in the Supreme Court challenging his appointment to the Andhra Pradesh High Court. In February last year, the petition was dismissed along with the imposition of Rs. 50,000 costs on each of the two petitioners.
Given the number of judges retiring this year from the Supreme Court, the next set of elevations are expected to be made soon. Vacancies in the Apex Court shall once again arise in the month of May with the retirement of Justice Radhakrishnan followed by the retirement of Justices AK Patnaik and SS Nijjar in June.