Legal fraternity speculates on a woman CJI in future

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Legal fraternity speculates on a woman CJI in future

AJMER SINGHET Bureau | Updated: May 22, 2020, 11.22 AM IST

Legal fraternity speculates on a woman CJI in future

NEW DELHI: The legal fraternity is speculating on the possible elevation of a Karnataka High Court judge to the apex court, which could make her the first woman Chief Justice of India in 2027. The judge, Justice BV Nagarathna, may figure in the list of probables for appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court, a legal luminary told ET. 

Justice Nagarathna is the daughter former CJI ES Venkataramiah, the first person from Karnataka to hold the post. The Supreme Court has two vacancies and with Justices R Banumathi and Arun Mishra set to retire in July and September, respectively, there will be four vacancies. Though junior in the all India seniority, Justice Nagarathna’s name may figure in the elevation shortlist to ensure adequate representation to women judges. Justice Nagarathna is the second senior-most judge of the HC after she was appointed in 2008 as additional judge. She had practised constitutional and commercial law in Bengaluru prior to that. 

Appointing pusine judges to the Supreme Court has precedents. For example, Justices Sanjeev Khanna and Abdul Nazeer were appointed directly to the SC. Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir, Geeta Mittal, is also in the reckoning, but the SC has adequate representation in Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjeev Khanna and S Ravindra Bhat from the Delhi HC, judge Mittal’s parent court. Other names likely to be considered include Punjab and Haryana Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and justices Ramalingam Sudhakar, TB Radhakrishnan, Sanjay Karol, Indrajit Mohanty, DN Patel and Vikram Nath of HCs of Manipur, Calcutta, Patna, Rajasthan, Delhi and Gujarat, respectively. 

In case Justice Vikram Nath is appointed to the SC before Justice Nagarathna, he will take over as the CJI in 2027. Only if Justice Nagarathna is considered for elevation now, either alone or with judges junior to her, can she become the first woman CJI, feel legal luminaries. Meanwhile, a surprise consideration, not being ruled out, could be Justice Akil Qureshi, also senior to Justice DN Patel, according to legal sources. Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar of the Madras HC, could also be shortlisted. For Himachal quota, after Justice Deepak Gupta retires, Justice Sanjay Karol, is likely to be in the reckoning. Meanwhile, sources said, if Justice Jha from Punjab and Haryana HC is appointed to the Supreme Court, it may pave the way for appointment of Justice Muralidhar as the HC’s next chief justice. 

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