CJI Chandrachud-led collegium’s immediate task is to fill seven vacancies in the SC, whose sanctioned strength is 34 judges including the CJI.
The first of these vacancies will be caused by the retirement of Justice S Abdul Nazeer on January 4, 2023. In May and June next year, five more SC judges – Justices D Maheshwari, M R Shah, K M Joseph, A Rastogi and V Ramasubramanian would retire. While Justice Krishna Murari will retire in July next year, Justice S R Bhat will superannuate in October.
Then, Justice S K Kaul will retire in December 2023. In 2024, Justice A Bose would retire in April and Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli in May and September respectively. CJI Chandrachud’s tenure runs till November 10, 2024.
This would mean, of the sanctioned strength of 34 judges, including the CJI, as many as 19, or 56% of the judges, would be nominated by the collegium headed by CJI Chandrachud.
Even if the previous collegium’s September 26 recommendation to appoint Bombay HC Chief Justice Dipankar Datta as a SC judge fructifies, he’ll be administered oath by CJI Chandrachud.
During his father Y V Chandrachud’s tenure as CJI, from February 22, 1978 till July 11, 1985, appointments of SC judges were made by the Union government in consultation with the CJI. The collegium system’s foundation was laid in 1993 and institutionalised in 1998 through two constitution bench judgements of the SC, which took away the power to select judges from the Executive. As the sanctioned strength of SC between 1977 till 1985 was 18, the 14 judges appointed by Sr Chandrachud constituted 78% of the total number of SC judges.
From among the 14 appointed during Sr Chandrachud’s tenure as CJI, three went on to head the judiciary – Justices E S Venkataramiah (father of Justice B V Nagarathna who would become the first woman CJI in September 2027 for 37 days), Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Ranganath Misra (who became CJI due to the untimely death of CJI Mukherjee in 1990).
Even during the tenure of three years and four months of Justice K G Balakrishnan as CJI, the first Dalit to head the judiciary, only 15 judges were appointed to the SC, of which four went on to become CJIs – Justices P Sathasivam, R M Lodha, H L Dattu and T S Thakur. As the sanctioned strength of SC then was 31, those appointed during CJI Balakrishnan’s tenure constituted 48% of total strength.
At present, the line of succession of CJIs is known till 2030. Justice Sanjiv Khanna will succeed Justice Chandrachud as CJI in November 2024, followed by Justices B R Gavai, Surya Kant, Vikram Nath, Nagarathna, P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala. Justice Pardiwala would have a tenure of two years and three months and retire on August 11, 2030.