NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court went by the Centre’s decision on seniority for the three judges who assumed office on Tuesday with the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra administering the oath first to Justice Indira Banerjee, followed by Justices Vineet Saran and K M Joseph. Putting to rest the controversy with some of the SC judges pointing out that Justice Joseph was being denied seniority despite having been recommended first (among the three judges) by the collegium, the CJI followed the Centre’s directive on seniority based on the date of their elevation as judges to HCs.
The oath ceremony was conducted in the jam-packed CJI court room in the presence of all judges. The gathering also included family members of three judges who were taking oath. After the ceremony, the newly appointed judges sat as per their seniority— Justice Banerjee sharing the bench in CJI’s court, Justice Saran with Justices Gogoi and Navin Sinha in court number 2 and Justice Joseph in court number three with Justices Madana BLokur and Deepak Gupta.
With the induction of the three judges, the total strength of judges has become 25 including CJI against the sanctioned strength of 31. Justice Banerjee, 60, is the eighth woman to be ever elevated to the SC. The SC got its first woman judge 39 years after its functioning when Justice Fathima Beevi was elevated to the apex court in 1989. Justice Sujata V Manohar was appointed in 1994.
Justice Ruma Pal was appointed as SC judge in January 2000 and ten years thereafter another woman judge Gyan Sudha Misra was elevated to the SC in April 2010. Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai was appointed as the fifth woman judge in September 2011. Justices R. Banumathi and Indu Malhotra, who are sitting judges of apex court, were appointed in 2014 and 2018 respectively.
It is the first time in its history that the SC has three sitting women judges.