Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran and KM Joseph sworn in as Supreme Court judges, but large number of vacancies still dog apex court

Justices Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran and KM Joseph were sworn in as judges of the Supreme Court on Tuesday in the order of seniority notified by the Centre.

The swearing-in ceremony started at 10.30 am in the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra's courtroom.  Justice Banerjee was the first to take oath, followed by Justice Saran and Justice Joseph. The oath of office and secrecy was administered to the three judges by Misra in a packed courtroom in the presence of all judges, law officers and advocates.

While Justice Banerjee was the chief justice of the Madras High Court, justices Saran and Joseph headed up the high courts in Odisha and Uttarakhand respectively.

File image of Justice KM Joseph. News18

File image of Justice KM Joseph. News18

With these appointments, the total strength of the judges in the apex court has gone up to 25 as against the previous figure of 22.

Joseph's seniority lowered

However, the three judges being sworn in does little to ease the situation at the apex court. There are vacancies for 31 judges in the Supreme Court, and the current strength of 25 means there are still six vacancies.

Furthermore, while the three judges were elevated, the Centre came out with a notification on the appointment of the three and placed Justice Joseph at third position. In the notification, Justice Banerjee was number one, followed by Justice Saran.

Convention dictates that the seniority of the judges is determined in accordance with the order of names notified by the government.

Calling it a "black day", senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal told ANI, "The government has given the message that if a judge doesn't make a judgment in their favour, he may be treated the same. I believe that this day will be seen as a 'black day' in the history of Indian judiciary. This is the arrogance of the government."

The Centre on Monday said none of the three judges will become chief justice of India as there are other Supreme Court judges who have been elevated to the apex court earlier and will retire later.

Opposition parties have claimed that the government has been targeting Joseph unfairly ever since he gave a verdict against the BJP in 2016, when he cancelled President's Rule in Uttarakhand and upheld the government of Congress' Harish Rawat.

A report on NDTV said the Supreme Court Collegium named Joseph for elevation to the Supreme Court in January, but the government questioned the choice, citing inadequate representation in the top court from other states, especially Kerala. But after the collegium reiterated its choice of Justice Joseph, the government accepted it.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Aug 08, 2018 16:04:47 IST

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