The government took only 48 hours to clear these two appointments— in the case of Justice Dipankar Datta, it had taken over two months to notify his appointment as judge of the Supreme Court.
ON Friday, Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and senior advocate K.V. Viswanathan were sworn in as judges of the Supreme Court of India by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud. The Union government notified the appointments of the duo late at night on Thursday even as there has been a change of guard in the Union law ministry with Kiren Rijiju shifted to the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
On May 16, the Supreme Court Collegium comprising CJI Dr Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, K.M. Joseph, Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna had passed a resolution recommending the name of the duo for elevation as Supreme Court judges. The government took only 48 hours to clear these two appointments— in the case of Justice Dipankar Datta, it had taken over two months to notify his appointment as judge of the Supreme Court.
Justice Mishra hails from the Chhattisgarh High Court and was serving as the Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court until his appointment to the Supreme Court. He was appointed as a judge of the High Court of Chhattisgarh on December 10, 2009. He was appointed as the Chief Justice of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh on October 13, 2021.
While recommending the name of Justice Mishra, the collegium noted that there is no representation of the High Court of Chhattisgarh in the present composition of the Supreme Court of India.
With the elevation of Justice Mishra, the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Pritinker Diwaker, who is senior to Justice Mishra, stands superseded by the former. Justice Diwaker also hails from Chhattisgarh.
While recommending the name of senior advocate Viswanathan, the collegium took into consideration the fact that at present there is only one member from the Bar— Justice P.S. Narasimha— who has been directly appointed to the Supreme Court Bench.
Viswanathan completed the five-year integrated law degree from Coimbatore Law College, Bharathiar University and enrolled with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu in 1988. After practising before the Supreme Court for over two decades, he was designated as a senior advocate in 2009.
The collegium stated that he had appeared in a wide range of cases on diverse subjects including constitutional law, criminal law, commercial law, the law of insolvency and arbitration.
“His stature as an eminent member of the Bar has been recognised by the Supreme Court in numerous cases where he was appointed to assist the court as amicus curiae. Shri Viswanathan has a sound understanding of law and is known in the legal fraternity for his integrity and as an upright senior member of the Bar,” the collegium had said of Viswanathan.
Recently, Viswanathan was appointed as amicus curiae in a matter challenging the third extension granted to Enforcement Directorate (ED) director S.K. Mishra and the challenge to the 2021 amendment to the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003, which allows the Union government to prolong the ED director’s term for up to five years. In his arguments, Viswanathan had opined the amendment to be illegal and unconstitutional.
In another recent matter, he argued for one of the petitioners seeking marriage equality in India.