Over the past twelve months, the Supreme Court of India has undergone many changes to its composition. As many eight new judges have been elevated to the Apex Court since May 24, 2019.
In September last year, its sanctioned strength was increased to 34 judges, after an amendment was passed to that effect by Parliament.
So what does the Court look like now? And what will it look like in the months to come?
This article aims to serve as a ready reckoner for information on judges of the Supreme Court - what their parent High Courts are, when they will retire, who the next five Chief Justices of India will be, and more.
Date of Appointment and Retirement of Judges
Last year, as many as 10 new judges were appointed to the Apex Court. They were elevated from the High Courts of Allahabad, Rajasthan, Punjab & Haryana, and Delhi in the North, Gauhati and Calcutta in the East, Karnataka and Madras in the South, and Bombay in the West.
Parent High Courts of sitting judges
The Bombay High Court is the Parent High Court for four judges, the most at the Supreme Court. The judges include present Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, future CJIs DY Chandrachud and BR Gavai, and Justice AM Khanwilkar.
The High Courts of Allahabad, Delhi, and Karnataka are Parent High Courts for nine judges (3 each).
The High Courts of Calcutta, Madras, Punjab & Haryana, and Rajasthan are Parent High Courts for 2 judges each.
The High Courts of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gauhati, Gujarat, Patna, and Telangana are represented by 1 judge each.
The High Courts of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand have no representation at the Supreme Court.
A majority of the judges were transferred to one High Court before their elevation to the Supreme Court, with a few exceptions.
Justice Arun Mishra (Parent High Court - Madhya Pradesh) served as Chief Justice of the Rajasthan and Calcutta High Courts before his elevation to the Supreme Court.
The same is the case with Justices AM Khanwilkar (served as Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh High Courts), SK Kaul (CJ of Punjab & Haryana and Madras HCs), Navin Sinha (CJ of Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan HCs), Deepak Gupta (CJ of Tripura and Chhattisgarh HCs), Indira Banerjee (CJ of Madras HC), Vineet Saran (CJ of Karnataka and Orissa HCs), Hemant Gupta (CJ of Patna and Madhya Pradesh HCs), Dinesh Maheshwari (CJ of Allahabad, Meghalaya, and Karnataka HCs), and V Ramasubramanian (CJ of Hyderabad and Himachal Pradesh HCs).
On the other hand, some judges have been directly elevated from their Parent High Courts. These are Justices Abdul Nazeer (Karnataka High Court), Sanjiv Khanna (Delhi High Court), and BR Gavai (Bombay High Court).
Chief Justice of India
Sharad Arvind Bobde was sworn in as the Chief Justice of India on November 18, 2019. CJI Bobde will head the Apex Court for a period of 1 year and 5 months, before he retires on April 23, 2021.
He was elevated as an Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court on March 29, 2000. He was sworn in as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on October 16, 2012, where he served before his elevation to the Supreme Court on April 12, 2013.
Next Chief Justices of India
Currently, one can determine who the next six Chief Justices of India will be, till 2027.
Justice Chandrachud will have the longest tenure among them; he will serve as CJI for two years. Justice UU Lalit will only have a tenure of two and a half months as Chief Justice of India.
Justice NV Ramana will take oath as the 48th Chief Justice of India in April next year.
Justices Lalit, Khanna and Gavai have not worked as a Chief Justice of any High Court before their elevation to the Supreme Court.
Bar at the Bench
Four judges are direct appointees from the Bar - Justices Rohinton Nariman, UU Lalit, L Nageswara Rao, and Indu Malhotra.
Justice Lalit will be the second judge to be elevated from the Bar to become Chief Justice of India. Justice SM Sikri (January 22, 1971 to April 25, 1973) was the first to achieve this feat.
Justice RF Nariman is also an Ordained Priest from Bandra Agiary.
Justice Indu Malhotra was the first woman from the Bar to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
The Collegium of the Supreme Court consists of the five seniormost judges. The body decides on appointment of judges to the High Courts and Supreme Court, as well as a host of other administrative decisions.
Justice R Banumathi is part of the current Supreme Court Collegium. She is the second-ever woman to be part of the body, Justice Ruma Pal being the first. Justice Banumathi is also one of the few judges from the subordinate judiciary to have made it to the Supreme Court.
Since Justices Arun Mishra and R Banumathi are retiring this year (2020), this Collegium will change to include Justices UU Lalit and AM Khanwilkar.
With the retirement age of its judges fixed at 65 years, the Supreme Court will see a number of changes to its composition in the near future. If no change is made to the retirement age, as many as 28 current judges will retire over the next five years.
Three judges - Justices Deepak Gupta, Banumathi, and Arun Mishra - will retire over the course of this year. Another five judges, including CJI Bobde, will attain superannuation next year.
7 judges and 10 judges will retire in the years 2022 and 2023 respectively.