16 May 2023 2:09 PM GMT
Senior Advocate KV Viswanathan – the Supreme Court collegium’s pick for a judgeship – would go on to become the Chief Justice of India, following seven other judges in line after the incumbent chief justice DY Chandrachud. If the rule of seniority is followed, the judges who are slated to occupy the prestigious position are Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, Surya Kant, BV Nagarathna,...
Senior Advocate KV Viswanathan – the Supreme Court collegium’s pick for a judgeship – would go on to become the Chief Justice of India, following seven other judges in line after the incumbent chief justice DY Chandrachud. If the rule of seniority is followed, the judges who are slated to occupy the prestigious position are Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, Surya Kant, BV Nagarathna, PS Narasimha, and JB Pardiwala.
The resolution reads:
“KV Viswanathan was born on May 26, 1966, and on his appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court would serve in that capacity until May 24, 2031. On the retirement of Justice Jamshed Burjor Pardiwala on August 11, 2030, he would be in line to assume office as the Chief Justice of India till his retirement in 2031.”
A collegium comprising Chief Justice Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, and Sanjiv Khanna announced its decision on Tuesday. The resolution published on the top court’s website reveals that an important factor that weighed with the collegium while making its determination was the need to enhance the Bar’s representation in the composition of the judges. “At present there is only one member from the Bar directly appointed to the Supreme Court Bench,” the collegium has noted, referring to Justice PS Narasimha, who is also in line to become the chief justice of the apex court. The resolution states:
“The Collegium has also considered the names of eminent members of the Bar. In their considered opinion, Mr KV Viswanathan, Senior Advocate, is eminently suitable for being appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court. His appointment will enhance the representation to the Bar in the composition of the Supreme Court. He is a distinguished member of the Bar of the Supreme Court. His wide experience and profound knowledge will provide significant value addition to the Supreme Court.”
The top court also highlighted the rich and diverse experience of the Tamil Nadu-born lawyer, saying, “Viswanathan has appeared in a wide range of cases on diverse subjects including constitutional law, criminal law, commercial law, the law of insolvency, and arbitration.” The resolution further acknowledges the senior counsels’ contributions in the capacity of amicus curiae, saying, “His stature as an eminent member of the Bar has been recognised by the Supreme Court in numerous cases where he was appointed to assist the Court as amicus curiae.” Finally, the top court has commended not only the ‘sound understanding of law’ and integrity possessed by Viswanathan, but also his reputation in the legal fraternity as an upright senior member of the Bar.
Once the central government accepts the top court’s proposal and notifies the elevation of Viswanathan, he will become the tenth lawyer who has directly been appointed from the Bar to the Supreme Court bench. He will be following in the footsteps of Justices SM Sikri, SC Roy, Kuldip Singh, Santosh Hegde, Rohinton Fali Nariman, UU Lalit, L Nageswara Rao, Indu Malhotra, and PS Narasimha. Incidentally, three of the nine aforesaid judges went on to become chief justices as well.
Apart from Viswanathan, the top court has also recommended the name of Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra of the Andhra Pradesh High Court hoping to fill the recent vacancies. With the retirements of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari last week (Sunday, May 12) and Justice MR Shah yesterday (Monday, May 15), the current strength of the Supreme Court has fallen to 32 against a sanctioned strength of 34. This includes the chief justice and 33 puisne judges. In the coming months, four more judges are set to retire, creating additional vacancies.
Read the notification here.