The Supreme Court normally sits in two judge, three judge, five judge , seven judge and other odd number Combinations. The largest so far was Kesavananda Bharati with a bench strength of 13 judges. The largest in the recent past was TMA Pai with 11 Judges. The four Judge combination is extremely rare and today the CJI had to constitute such a bench due to retirement of 3 judges, Justice A.K. Patnaik , Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar during summer vacation which starts today. The Judges are retiring on 02.06.2014, 14.05.2014 and on 06.06.2014 respectively. Since today is the last working day of this side of the summer vacation, practically for the Judges, today happens to be their last day in Court Room. As a matter of practice followed in Supreme Court, the retiring judges would spend their last working day in combination with the Chief Justice.
Justice A.K. Patnaik was enrolled with the State Bar Council of Orissa on 28.03.1974. He was elevated as an Additional Judge of the High Court of Orissa on 13.01.1994 and on transfer assumed charge as Additional Judge of the Gauhati High Court on 07.02.1994. He became a permanent Judge of the Gauhati High Court in 1995. After spending eight years as a Judge in the Gauhati High Court, he again assumed charge as a Judge of Orissa High Court on 15.04.2002. He was appointed as Chief Justice of the High Court of Chhattisgarh on 14.03.2005 and on transfer, assumed charge as Chief Justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court on 02.10.2005. Justice A.K. Patnaik was appointed as Judge, Supreme Court of India, on 17.11.2009
Justice Radhakrishnan was appointed as Additional Judge of the Kerala High Court on May 17, 1995 and Permanent Judge on January 16,1996. Justice Radhakrishnan was acting Chief Justice of High Court of Kerala and later elevated as Chief Justice of High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and later the Chief Justice of High Court of Gujarat . He was elevated as Judge, Supreme Court of India on 17th November 2009.
Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar was elevated to the Bench of High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh, as an Additional Judge on April 8, 1996 and later transferred to High Court at Bombay on April 26, 1996 and became permanent Judge of the High Court at Bombay on April 3, 1998. The judge was transferred back to the High Court of Punjab & Haryana, Chandigarh on August 7, 2000 and remained as Acting Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court, Chandigarh w.e.f. 3.10.2006 to 28.11.2006. He Assumed the charge of office of the Chief Justice of the High Court at Calcutta on March 7, 2007 and elevated as a Judge to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on November 17, 2009.