Meet Supreme Court’s 5 new judges, elevated amid Modi govt-collegium standoff

Meet Supreme Court’s 5 new judges, elevated amid Modi govt-collegium standoff

Resolution to elevate the 5 was sent in December, govt cleared appointments last week. With the new inductions, SC would now have 32 out of sanctioned strength of 34 judges.

(L-R) Justices Manoj Misra, Sanjay Kumar, Pankaj Mithal, Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Sanjay Karol | Twitter @ANI

(L-R) Justices Manoj Misra, Sanjay Kumar, Pankaj Mithal, Ahsanuddin Amanullah and Sanjay Karol | Twitter @ANI

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud Monday administered oaths to five new judges of the Supreme Court. These appointments come on the back of a standoff between the judiciary and the Union government over delay by the latter in clearing recommendations sent by the top court collegium for judgeship. 

The five judges who joined the SC are Pankaj Mithal, chief justice of the Rajasthan High Court, Sanjay Karol, chief justice of the Patna High Court, P.V. Sanjay Kumar, chief justice of Manipur High Court, Ahsanuddin Amanullah, a Patna High Court judge, and Manoj Misra of the Allahabad HC.

Though the common resolution to elevate the five was sent in December, the central government gave its green signal to the appointments Thursday. President Droupadi Murmu signed their warrants of appointment Saturday evening, paving the way for their swearing-in ceremony Monday.

With the new inductions, the apex court would now have 32 out of a sanctioned strength of 34 judges. The government has two more files related to appointments in the top court. The SC collegium had forwarded the two proposals to the government on 31 January.

With Mithal and Misra’s elevations, there will be four judges from the Allahabad High Court, the second HC, after Delhi, to have such a large representation in the top court.

ThePrint profiles the five new SC judges.

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Pankaj Mithal

A commerce graduate from Allahabad University, Pankaj Mithal studied law from Meerut College and got enrolled as an advocate with the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council in 1985. He started his practice thereafter at the Allahabad High Court, and worked as standing counsel for the UP Avas Evam Vikas Parishad and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Agra, until he got elevated to the bench as an additional judge in July 2006. 

In January 2021, Mithal was elevated as the chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir. Last October, he was moved to Rajasthan to take over the chief justice’s post there.

Sanjay Karol

An alumnus of St Edward’s School, Shimla, Sanjay Karol graduated in history, before obtaining a degree in law from Himachal Pradesh University. Enrolled as an advocate in 1986, Karol practised extensively in the Supreme Court and represented Himachal in the inter-state water dispute (BBMB project). He also discharged constitutional duties as the advocate general of the state from 1998 to 2003. 

In March 2007, he was appointed as a judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court. Eleven years after serving as a judge, Karol was appointed Tripura High Court’s chief justice in November 2018. A year later, he was transferred to Patna High Court as chief justice. 

With Karol’s elevation, the top court finally has a judge from Himachal Pradesh HC that remained unrepresented in the highest court for more than two years, after Justice Deepak Gupta’s retirement in May 2020.

P.V. Sanjay Kumar

Son of a former advocate general of Andhra Pradesh, P.V. Sanjay Kumar graduated in commerce and then secured a law degree from Delhi University in 1988. After enrolling as an advocate with the Andhra Pradesh Bar Council, he got attached to his father’s office and gained experience in different branches of law. He went on to serve as the government pleader in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, and was appointed as an additional judge of the Andhra Pradesh HC in August 2008. 

In 2019, Kumar was transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court where he took charge as a judge on 14 October, 2019. Finally, he was sworn in as chief justice of the Manipur High Court on 14 February, 2021. 

Kumar will represent Andhra Pradesh High Court. The last judge from this state who served in the SC was former Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana who superannuated in November 2022.

Ahsanuddin Amanullah

A science graduate, Ahsanuddin Amanullah completed his law degree from the Patna Law College. Enrolled with the Bihar State Bar Council in 1991, he appeared intermittently in the HCs of Calcutta, Jharkhand, Delhi, and the Supreme Court, besides practising majorly in the Patna HC. 

Nominated as the standing counsel of the Bihar government in 2006, Amanullah, thereafter, became the state’s advocate general. He was called upon by the court to assist it as amicus curiae in several significant matters, and also appeared for the district administration before the Dalsinghsarai (Samastipur) Firing Inquiry Commission. 

Amanullah was elevated as a judge to the Patna High Court in June 2011. After 10 years of service, he was transferred to the Andhra HC on 10 October, 2021, but was re-transferred to the Patna HC on 20 June, 2022. The last judge from Patna HC to serve in the top court was Justice Navin Sinha, who retired on 18 August, 2021.

Manoj Misra

Appointed as judge of the Allahabad High Court in 2011, Manoj Misra completed his law education from Allahabad University in 1988. He practised in various areas of law, including civil, revenue and criminal. He was appointed as a judge in November 2011. 

Misra is the only one out of the five new appointees who will have a long tenure of seven years as judge to the Supreme Court. He is also likely to be a member of the all-powerful appointment panel the collegium which recommends candidates for appointment to high courts. 

 (Edited by Gitanjali Das)

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