[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Supreme Court Collegium, comprising the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and Rohinton F Nariman has decided to recommend the names of Bombay High Court judge, Justice Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai and Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court Justice Surya Kant for their appointment as judges of the Supreme Court.
The meeting of the Collegium was held on May 8, 2019.
After Justice K G Balakrishnan, Justice Gavai will be the second Dalit to become the Chief Justice of India, following the retirement of Justice Sanjiv Khanna on May 3, 2025. He will remain in that post till November 23, 2025, after which Justice Surya Kant will be the CJI till February 9, 2027.
It may be recalled, that Justice Gavai was with Judge Loya at the time of his death, described by many as mysterious. Loya was the presiding judge in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party chief, Amit Shah, was one of the accused. A public interest petition before the Supreme Court, while seeking a probe into the incident, had disputed Justice Gavai’s version of events leading up to Loya’s death. The Supreme court finally rejected the plea for an investigation.
“While recommending the names of Mr Justice Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai and Mr Justice Surya Kant, the Collegium has taken into consideration combined seniority on the all-India basis of Chief Justices and senior puisne judges of high courts, apart from their competence, conduct and integrity.
“The Collegium has also kept in mind the desirability of giving due representation on the Bench of the Supreme Court, as far as possible, to all the high courts as well as to all sections of the society including those belonging to SC/ST/OBC categories, women and minorities. We are also conscious of the fact that some high courts have remained unrepresented in the Supreme Court” The Collegium recommendations read.
Justice Gavai stands at serial number 8 in the combined seniority of high court judges on an all-India basis.
“The Collegium, while recommending his name, has considered Justice Gavai’s position (serial number 4) in the seniority of judges hailing from the Bombay High Court. His recommendation, in no way, is to be misconstrued to mean that three senior-most Judges from Bombay High Court (two of whom are serving as Chief Justices) are less suitable than Mr Justice Gavai. On his appointment, the Supreme Court Bench will have a Judge belonging to Scheduled Caste category after about a decade,” the Collegium notes.
Justice Surya Kant stands at serial number 11 in the combined seniority of High Court Judges on the all-India basis.
“In the seniority of Judges hailing from Punjab & Haryana, Justice Surya Kant stands at serial number 2 and is already functioning as Chief Justice since 5th October 2018. While recommending his name, the Collegium is conscious of the fact that on appointment of Justice Surya Kant there will be two Judges on the Bench of the Supreme Court from the Punjab & Haryana High Court, which has the distinction of being the common High Court for two large states, and is the third largest high court in the country, the Collegium note reads.
The Collegium has also made it clear that the appointments must be made in the following order of seniority:
- Justice Bhushan Ramkrishna Gavai, and
- Justice Surya Kant