Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court took oaths as the judges of Supreme Court today, in presence of CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
President Ram Nath Kovind had notified the appointments of two new judges to the Supreme Court on Wednesday. And a day after the Central government’s order to elevate two junior – Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Sanjiv Khanna as per the recommendation of Collegium, the two judges sworn in as the judges of Supreme Court today. The oath taking ceremony was administered by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi in the apex court and the Supreme Court now has 28 judges as against sanction strength of 31 – leaving out the court to be short of three judges.
The appointment process was completed within just 6 days as the Centre had reportedly received collegium’s recommendations on 10 January – which was termed as a “surprise” by Justice Khanna himself. The recommendation, however, has attracted criticism among the top judiciary fraternity of India since Justice Khanna was 33rd in seniority list of all-India high court judges. Khanna’s elevation meant the suppression of 32 other senior judges – which, the Bar Council of India (BCI) terms as a “whimsical and arbitrary decision” by the collegium.
Pointing out that “the supersession of several senior judges and chief justices of the country is viewed by the bar and the common man as unjust and improper”, the Bar Council has called for revocation of the decision of appointment of two judges and further recommended the names of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog of Rajasthan High Court, and Justice Rajendra Menon of Delhi High Court for elevation –considering the seniority list. This is, indeed a call for upholding the highest level of integrity in all actions and a critical element in achieving or receiving a fair and impartial justice is judicial independence from the government.