Judiciary Watch: Supreme Court may see three new judges, High Court vacancies up to 470

Following some busy months for the collegium, the month of June saw a lull in the number of appointments and transfers in the higher judiciary.

The Hindu reports that three judges are being considered for elevation to the Supreme Court. They are Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court Manjula Chellur, Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and former Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, KM Joseph.

The apex court currently has two vacancies, and that is likely to increase with the impending retirement of Justice FMI Kalifulla this month.

The high courts of Manipur and Sikkim will be headed by new Acting Chief Justices, following the retirement of LK Mohapatra and SK Sinha JJ.

They will be replaced by Justice RR Prasad and Justice SK Agnihotri respectively, who will both temporarily perform the duties of the Chief Justice. All in all, a total of eight High Courts are presently headed by Acting Chief Justices.

Four additional judges – three from the Orissa High Court and one from the Gujarat High Court – have been made permanent.

With the retirement of as many as nine judges last month, the number of vacancies across the 24 high courts has increased to 470. The names of Justice NK Sanghi of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, Justice SR Waghmare of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and Justice BP Ray of the Orissa High Court have been taken off the list of high court judges following their deaths earlier this year.

Over the past six months, the number of women judges in the high courts has increased slightly, from 62 as of December 2015, to 65 as of this month.

Since January this year, there have been a number of transfers between various high courts. The Madras High Court has seen most of these, with three new judges coming in and four judges going out. The high courts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bombay and Punjab & Haryana have also seen quite a few transfers. Here is a list of high courts that has seen the most transfer activity:

High Court Transfers to Transfers out
Madras 3 4
Rajasthan 3 3
Bombay 2 3
Gujarat 2 3
Punjab & Haryana 2 3

Given below is the list of vacancies in the higher judiciary: