New Delhi: Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Monday administered the oath of office to five new judges of the Supreme Court.
Justices Pankaj Mithal, Sanjay Karol, P V Sanjay Kumar, Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Manoj Misra were administered the oath during a swearing-in ceremony held in the Supreme Court premises.
With the appointment of the five judges, the total number of judges in the apex court has risen to 32, two short of the full strength.
Their names were recommended for elevation as apex court judges by the Supreme Court Collegium on December 13, 2022. On February 4, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had announced the appointment of Justices Pankaj Mithal, Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court, Justice Karol, Chief Justice of Patna High Court, Justice Kumar, Chief Justice of Manipur High Court, Justice Amanullah of Patna High Court and Justice Misra of Allahabad High Court as apex court judges.
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This came amid a tiff between the government and the judiciary over the process of appointing judges to the Supreme Court and the 25 high courts.
The apex court and the government have openly expressed their differences over the Collegium system of appointment of judges in the higher judiciary.
Rijiju had recently described the Collegium as being ”alien” to the Indian Constitution, while Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar questioned the Supreme Court striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act and a related constitution amendment Act in 2015.
Through the NJAC law, the government had sought to replace the Collegium system of appointing Supreme Court and High Court judges with a new method.
The Centre had assured the top court that the Collegium’s recommendation for the appointment of five judges in the apex court will be cleared soon.
On January 31, the Supreme Court collegium had recommended two more names for elevation as top court judges — Allahabad High Court Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Gujarat High Court Chief Justice Aravind Kumar.
Once they are appointed and take oath, the top court will have its full strength of 34.
While recommending the two names, the Collegium had said that the names sent by it on 13 December 2022 ”shall have precedence over the two names recommended presently for appointment to the Supreme Court.”