The Supreme Court collegium led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud must now decide on the appointments of high court Chief Justices.
While some recommendations are pending with the government, retirements and recommendations for the elevation of Chief Justices to the Supreme Court are expected to create vacancies. A bench composed of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay Oka raised the matter during a Supreme Court hearing on judicial appointments.
With the retirement of Justice Abdul Nazeer on January 4, the composition of the five-member collegium will change, and the new collegium is likely to meet soon to discuss the selection of Chief Justices of high courts. The fifth member of the collegium is now Justice Ajay Rastogi.
In addition to the Chief Justice, the collegium consists of Justices Kaul, K M Joseph, M R Shah, and Rastogi. Justice Sanjeev Khanna, who is next in line to become the CJI, is also consulted on collegium decisions.
According to data from the Department of Justice, five high courts have acting Chief Justices as of January 2: Bombay, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madras, and Tripura. According to the data, two more Chief Justices of high courts are projected to retire in January, and three Chief Justices of high courts have been recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court.
The collegium recommended the appointment of three chief justices and two high court judges as Supreme Court justices on December 13 of last year.
Among the five recommendations to the Supreme Court is the Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court, Justice Pankaj Mithal; the Chief Justice of the Patna High Court, Justice Sanjay Karol; and the Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court, Justice P V Sanjay Kumar. When the government approves these names, the vacancies in these high courts will need to be filled.
On January 11, Chief Justice R M Chhaya of the Gauhati High Court is expected to retire. On January 20, Justice A A Sayed, Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, is expected to retire.
The collegium had recommended Justice S Muralidhar, the current Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court, be appointed Chief Justice of the Madras High Court on September 28 of last year. Over three months later, the government is still considering the recommendation.
The collegium recommended the appointment of three additional Chief Justices on December 13: Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra as Chief Justice of the Jharkhand High Court, Justice N Kotiswar Singh as Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, and Justice K Vinod Chandran as Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court. These suggestions are also pending with the government.