On Wednesday, the Union government announced that Chief Justice PB Varale of the Karnataka High Court would be elevated to the Supreme Court. This decision overruled the collegium’s recommendation within a week and made it possible for the top court to have three judges who belong to the Scheduled Caste category to serve as judges in its history.
“In exercise of the power conferred by the Constitution of India, Hon’ble the President, after consultation with Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, is pleased to appoint Sh Justice PB Varale, chief justice of the Karnataka high court, as judge of the Supreme Court of India,” Union minister of state for law and justice, Arjun Ram Meghwal, wrote on X.
The nomination of Justice Varale will restore the full sanctioned strength of 34 justices, including the Chief Justice of India, to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court collegium, led by Chief Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud, recommended Justice Varale’s elevation on January 19. The collegium noted that the judge had gained significant expertise from his positions as chief justice of the Karnataka high court and as a judge at the Bombay high court, where he was appointed in 2008.
“While recommending his name, the collegium has taken into consideration the fact that among the high court judges, he is the senior-most Judge belonging to a scheduled caste and the only chief justice belonging to a scheduled caste among the chief justices of high courts across the country,” the collegium mentioned in its cumulative resolution.
With justice Varale’s elevation, the Supreme Court will for the first time have three judges from the Scheduled Caste category, including justices Gavai and CT Ravikumar.
“The Supreme Court of India has operated almost throughout last year with full strength of thirty-four judges and, therefore, could achieve the distinction of recording an unprecedented rate of disposal by disposing of 52,191 cases in 2023. Bearing in mind that the workload of judges has increased considerably, it has become necessary to ensure that the court always has full working judge-strength. The collegium has, therefore, decided to fill up the sole existing vacancy by recommending a name,” its resolution added.