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  • Be N By IAS, Delhi
  • 14, Feb 2021
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For : GS-2: Polity and Constitution


With just over a month left in his 14-month tenure as Chief Justice of India, the Justice S A Bobde-led collegium is yet to make its first recommendation of a judge to be appointed to the Supreme Court since November 2019.


  • Last Precedent: The last time a CJI retired without a single appointment to the SC was in 2015 during the tenure of CJI H L Dattu.
    • There was an unprecedented stand-off between the judiciary and the government over the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).


  • The stalemate in the collegium comes even as the process of appointment of at least six SC judges is due.
  • Short of judges Strength: The apex court is short of four judges while two retirements — of CJI Bobde and Justice Indu Malhotra — are due in the next two months. Additionally, Justices Ashok Bhushan, Rohinton Nariman and Navin Sinha will retire this year.
  • Point of contention in appointment: Justice Kureshi’s appointment as CJ of Tripura was also a point of contention for the then SC collegium headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi.
  • Reversal in recommendation: In September 2019, the SC court collegium had reversed its May 2019 recommendation appointing Justice Kureshi as CJ of Madhya Pradesh High Court after the government sent the file back for reconsideration and instead recommended him for the position of Chief Justice of Tripura.
  • “Communication and material”: Without citing reasons, the collegium said that its reconsideration was based on the “communication and material” placed by the Department of Justice.


  • Lack of consensus in the collegium: One reason is the lack of consensus in the collegium – comprising CJI Bobde and Justices NV Ramana, Rohinton Nariman, U U Lalit and AM Khanwilkar – on recommending Justice Akil Kureshi, Chief Justice of Tripura High Court, to the apex court.
  • Gujarat HC judge appointment issue:
    • Even in November 2018, when the post of CJ of the Gujarat High Court fell vacant, Justice Kureshi, who was then the seniormost judge of the High Court, was to take charge as acting Chief Justice of Gujarat HC as per convention.
    • However, the government named Justice AS Dave, who was then the second most senior judge in the Gujarat High Court after Kureshi, as acting Chief Justice and, instead, transferred Justice Kureshi to Bombay High Court as its fifth most-senior judge.
    • This unusual situation would have led to Justice Kureshi being a judge in Gujarat HC until he took office in Bombay HC while his junior would be acting CJ. However, this, too, was reversed when the Gujarat HC Bar launched a protest and moved the SC.


  • CJI Bobde: He inherited just one vacancy, that of former CJI Ranjan Gogoi, against the total strength of 34 judges when he took over. However, three judges have retired since leaving the SC with 30 judges.
  • CJI Ranjan Gogoi: Former CJI Ranjan Gogoi inherited seven vacancies when he took office but 14 judges were appointed and 146 high court appointments were made during his tenure.
  • CJI Dipak Misra: Who preceded Gogoi, saw four SC appointments and 81 appointments to high courts.

SOURCE: Indian Express