The Supreme Court on Monday regained its full strength of 34 judges as chief justice of Gauhati high court Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia and Gujarat high court judge Justice Jamshed B Pardiwala took oath as apex court judges.
Chief Justice of India N V Ramana administered the oath of office to justices Dhulia and Pardiwala during a function at the newly-built auditorium of the additional building complex of the apex court.
With the appointment of Justice Dhulia and Justice Pardiwala, the top court regained its full strength of 34 judges, which had come down to 32 after the retirement of Justice R Subhash Reddy on January 4 this year.
Justice Pardiwala will go on to serve as the CJI for over two years, sources aware of the procedure to appoint members of the higher judiciary said.
Justice Dhulia, who will be the second judge to be elevated from Uttarakhand, is the sibling of national award-winning film director and actor Tigmanshu Dhulia. He will have a tenure of a little over three years.
After the apex court collegium headed by the CJI recommended the names of the two high court judges, the Union law ministry swiftly processed the files on Saturday last which led to the issuance of the warrant of appointment same day from the office of President Ram Nath Kovind. The CJI, with the appointment of two more judges, has created a history of sorts by administering oath of office to 11 apex court judges so far.
Justice Pardiwala will be the fourth judge from the Parsi community to adorn the top court bench and the first high court judge from the minority community who has been elevated in the last five years, after Justice S Abdul Nazeer.
Justice Nazeer was elevated to the Supreme Court in February 2017.
Justice Dhulia, born on August 10, 1960, is from Madanpur, a remote village located in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. He joined the Bar at Allahabad high court in 1986.
An alumnus of Sainik School, Lucknow, he did his graduation and law from the University of Allahabad.
Justice Dhulia was the first chief standing counsel in the high court of Uttarakhand and was later an additional advocate general, and was elevated as the judge in the same high court in November 2008.
He later became the chief justice of the high court of Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh on January 10, 2021.
Justice Pardiwala, born on August 12, 1965, started practising law in the high court of Gujarat in 1990.
The CJI, who himself will demit office on August 26 this year, has been successful in evolving consensus in the five-judge collegium to unanimously recommend a record number of 11 names so far, since August last year.
The apex court, which did not get a single judge after the superannuation of the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi on November 17, 2019, had nine existing vacancies when CJI Ramana took over, and the high courts had around 600 vacancies.
The collegium then ensured the filling up of nine vacancies in the Supreme Court in August last year in one go, and Justice B V Nagarathna, one of three women judges, would become the first woman CJI.
The year 2022 is going to be the second year since the inception of the top court in 1950 which will see three different CJIs in as many months.
The incumbent CJI, who will demit office on August 26, will be succeeded by Justice Uday Umesh Lalit having a tenure of a little over two months.
Justice Lalit's retirement in November will pave the way for Justice D Y Chandrachud to take over as head of the judiciary for a term of a little over two years. The top court would see more vacancies soon with the retirement of Justices Vineet Saran and L Nageswara Rao on May 10 and June 7 respectively.
Justices AM Khanwilkar and Indira Banerjee would be demitting offices in July, and September this year respectively.