Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna were sworn-in as Supreme Court judges on Friday. Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi administered the oath of office to justices Maheshwari and Khanna during the swearing-in ceremony held in court number 1 of the apex court.
The sanctioned strength of judges in the Supreme Court is 31. With the swearing-in of justices Maheshwari and Khanna, the strength has now gone up to 28. While Justice Maheshwari was the chief justice of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Khanna was a judge in the Delhi High Court. The government had on Wednesday notified the appointment of justices Maheshwari and Khanna as judges of the apex court.
The five-member Supreme Court Collegium, comprising CJI Gogoi and justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, N V Ramana and Arun Mishra, had on January 10 recommended the names of justices Maheshwari and Khanna for elevation as apex court judges. The names of the chief justices of the Rajasthan and Delhi high courts, justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Rajendra Menon respectively, were considered by the collegium on December 12, 2018 for elevation, but the deliberation remained inconclusive and one of the members of the collegium, Justice M B Lokur, retired on December 30, 2018. His place in the collegium was taken by Justice Arun Mishra.
The new collegium had, on January 10, ignored the prospect of elevation of justices Nandrajog and Menon as apex court judges. The Bar Council of India (BCI) had, on Wednesday, protested the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation to elevate Justice Khanna by superseding several other judges and termed the decision as “whimsical and arbitrary”. Before the BCI made a statement protesting the collegium’s decision, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul of the Supreme Court also wrote a note to the CJI and other members of the Collegium for ignoring the seniority of justices Nandrajog and Menon.
Sources said Justice Kaul was of the view that a wrong signal would go out if the two chief justices, who were above Justice Khanna in the seniority list, were not elevated as apex court judges.