Four new Supreme Court judges were administered their oaths of office by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi today, bringing the strength of the top court to its full complement of 31 for the first time in five years. Parliament had, in 2008, sanctioned an increase in the number of judges which previously stood at 27 including the Chief Justice.
The four new judges are BR Gavai, Surya Kant, Aniruddha Bose and AS Bopanna.
The Centre had previously expressed concern over the nomination of Justice Aniruddha Bose of the Jharkhand High Court and Justice AS Bopanna of the Gauhati High Court, citing seniority issues.
Similar concerns were expressed in 2018 over the nomination of Justice KM Joseph. However the government was forced to accept his elevation when the collegium reasserted its choice and Justice Joseph took oath in August.
This time too the Supreme Court collegium overruled the Centre.
According to a resolution signed by top Supreme Court judges, the collegium had decided to elevate Justices Bose and Bopanna on the basis of merit, seniority and representation to high courts.
"While recommending these names, the collegium has taken into consideration, apart from their merit and integrity, the combined seniority on all-India basis of Chief Justices and senior judges of high courts. 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," it read.
Justice Gavai, 58, formerly a judge of the Bombay High Court, is set to become the next Chief Justice of India in 2025 and will become the third Dalit Supreme Court Justice and the second to hold the country's top judicial post, after Justice KG Balakrishnan.
Justice Surya Kant, who is the incumbent chief justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, will succeed Justice Gavai as the Chief Justice of India in November 2025. He will remain in office till February 2027.
Justice Bose, who is the chief justice of Jharkhand High Court, is at number 12 in all-India seniority of high court judges.
Justice Bopanna, whose parent high court is Karnataka, is the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court and is at number 36 in all-India seniority.
With input from PTI