Four new Supreme Court judges took their Oath of office on September 23, taking the total strength of judges in the apex court to 34. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi administered oath of office and secrecy to justices Krishna Murari, S Ravindra Bhat, V Ramasubramanian and Hrishikesh Roy in a simple ceremony in courtroom one.
The appointment of the four judges takes the number of judges in the apex court to the total sanctioned strength of 34. Justices Murari and Bhat headed the Punjab and Haryana and Rajasthan high courts respectively and Justices Ramasubramanian and Roy headed the Himachal Pradesh and Kerala high courts respectively.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday signed the warrants for the appointments of four new judges of the Supreme Court attaining full strength of 34 judges. As per reports, the Supreme Court Collegium led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had recommended four high court judges for appointment to the apex court.
Earlier, President Ram Nath Kovind had signed into law a bill which seeks to increase the sanctioned strength of judges in the Supreme Court from 30 to 33 besides the Chief Justice of India. The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Bill was passed by the Parliament in August. With no vacancy, the strength of the apex court was 31, including the chief justice of India. After the law comes into force, the sanctioned strength of SC became 33, besides the CJI. The move to increase the strength of judges by 3 or 10 per cent comes against the backdrop of rising cases in the top court which stand at nearly 60,000.
In June, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to increase the number of judges in the Supreme Court as well as raise the retirement age of high court judges to 65 years. Justice Gogoi had also urged the Prime Minister to make tenure appointments of retired top court judges and high court judges under Articles 128 and 224A of the Constitution respectively to clear the backlog of cases pending for years.
The Chief Justice had written three letters to the PM, saying that there were more than 58,000 cases that were pending in the Supreme Court and the number was increasing due to new cases every day. Because of a shortage of judges, the required number of constitution benches to decide important cases involving questions of law were not being formed.
(With PTI inputs)