KV Viswanathan
KV Viswanathan

If cleared by Central government, KV Viswanathan will be 4th from Bar to be Chief Justice of India

Giti Pratap

In a resolution published on Tuesday, the Supreme Court collegium recommended the elevation of Senior Advocate KV Viswanathan for appointment as a judge of the top court.

If the recommendation is cleared by the Central government, he will be only the fourth person directly elevated from the bar to adorn the post of the Chief Justice of India (CJI).

Since the very first Chief Justice of India was sworn in on Republic Day, 1950, 266 judges including the current 32 sitting judges, have served on the Bench of the apex court.

Of this, only 9 judges, or 0.033%, were elevated directly from the Bar.

Justices SM Sikri, SC Roy, Kuldip Singh, Santosh Hegde, Rohinton Nariman, UU Lalit, L Nageswara Rao, Indu Malhotra, PS Narasimha

The judges who were appointed directly from the Bar are Justices SM Sikri, SC Roy, Kuldip Singh, Santosh Hegde, Rohinton Nariman, UU Lalit, L Nageswara Rao, Indu Malhotra and PS Narasimha.

Justice Indu Malhotra also has the distinction of being the first ever female lawyer to be elevated directly to the Supreme Court.

Of this already exclusive list, only Justices Sikri and Lalit have ever become Chief Justice of India.

Justice Narasimha be will be the third as he will serve as CJI from October 30, 2027 to May 2, 2028.

If the Collegium recommendation to elevate Viswanathan is confirmed by the Centre, he will be the 10th person to ever be elevated directly from the bar to the bench of the Supreme Court, and the fourth among them who would serve as CJI.

On the retirement of Justice JB Pardiwala on August 11, 2030, Viswanathan would be in line to assume office as the CJI and will hold office till his retirement on May 25, 2031.

Justice SM Sikri, Justice UU Lalit, and Justice PS Narasimha

Viswanathan, a former Additional Solicitor General, has been in the profession for more than 30 years and has appeared in a number of high profile matters.

Coming from a family of lawyers, he attended the Law College at Coimbatore in the first batch of the five year course that graduated in 1988. During the entirety of the five years, he attended the chambers of advocate KA Ramachandran, a criminal trial lawyer at Coimbatore.

After enrolment, he moved to New Delhi and joined the chambers of Senior Advocate CS Vaidyanathan who subsequently served as an Additional Solicitor General of India.

In 1990, he moved to the chambers of Senior Advocate KK Venugopal who later became the Attorney General for India

Viswanathan worked there for nearly 5 years.

In April 2009, he was designated as Senior Advocate by the Supreme court.

Speaking to Bar & Bench in 2014, Viswanathan spoke of the need to include criteria like minimum number of reported judgments and pro bono work undertaken for the selection of judges to the higher judiciary.

"The amount of income tax being paid alone cannot be the basis. Experts in fields like criminal law and taxation also have to be considered. There has to be diversity. In England, some men of Asian origin have been appointed. Mr. Rabindra Singh has been appointed at the age of forty seven as a High Court judge which is commendable. Apart from merit, they look at diversity. We also need to consider that because we are a diverse society", he had said

In the resolution published today, the Supreme Court Collegium, comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, and Justices SK Kaul, KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna, noted that at present there is only one member from the Bar directly appointed to the Supreme Court Bench, Justice Narasimha.

"The appointment of Shri KV Viswanathan will enhance the representation to the Bar in the composition of the Supreme Court. Shri Viswanathan is a distinguished member of the Bar of the Supreme Court. His wide experience and profound knowledge will provide a significant value addition to the Supreme Court," the resolution stated.

Along with Viswanathan, the Collegium today recommended that Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra be also elevated to the

The top court has a sanctioned strength of thirty-four judges and is presently functioning with thirty-two judges.

Further, four more vacancies are going to arise by the second week of July and the working strength of judges will come to twenty-eight.

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