Amidst raging controversy over supersession of senior judges, Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna have been appointed judges of the Supreme Court.
The notification making the appointments have been published by the Ministry of Law and Justice. The Central government has acted swiftly in clearing the files as the recommendations were made by the Supreme Court Collegium only on January 10.
The two recommendations by the Collegium had invited a lot of controversy. While Justice Sanjiv Khanna was 33rd in the combined seniority of High Court Judges on an all-India basis, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari had been superseded by Justice Ajay Rastogi once.
Further, Justices Maheshwari and Khanna were not in the zone of consideration in the last few months. Rather, the names that were doing the rounds included current Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajendra Menon, Rajasthan High Court Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Justice Gita Mittal, and Delhi High Court judge, Justice S Ravindra Bhat.
In fact, there were strong indications that the Collegium had decided on December 12 last year to elevate Justices Menon and Nandrajog to the Supreme Court.
The Collegium resolution elevating Justices Khanna and Maheshwari also mentioned that some decisions were taken on December 12 last year but the same could not be taken to its conclusion as winter vacation intervened. Subsequently, when the Collegium met again after the court re-opened, it decided to have a fresh look at the matter.
This had caused considerable debate both at the Bar and the Bench. Sitting Supreme Court judge, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul had written to the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi objecting to the two recommendations while retired Delhi High Court judge, Justice Kailash Gambhir had written to the President of India urging him to prevent what he termed “historical blunder”.
With the two new appointments, the Supreme Court will now have 28 judges as against the sanctioned strength of 31.
Read the notifications below.