In a landmark moment, President Ram Nath Kovind approved the appointment of Justice BV Nagarathna, and eight others to the Supreme Court, paving the way for her to be the first woman Chief Justice of India (CJI) in 2027.
With the new appointments, the working strength of the Supreme Court goes up to 33 against the sanctioned strength of 34. It now functions with only 24 judges.
On August 17, the Supreme Court Collegium, comprising Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices U U Lalit, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, recommended nine names, including eight High Court judges and an advocate, for elevation to the apex court.
The nine nominated by it were four High Court Chief Justices —Vikram Nath (Gujarat), A S Oka (Karnataka), Hima Kohli (Telangana) and J K Maheshwari (Sikkim) — four High Court judges Justices B V Nagarathna (Karnataka), M M Sundresh (Madras), C T Ravikumar (Kerala) and Bela M Trivedi (Gujarat), and Senior Advocate P S Narasimha.
For the first time, the Collegium in one single resolution recommended three women judges. Justice Nagarathna will be in line to become the CJI in 2027. However, she will get to head the apex court only for a month i.e from from September 25 to October 29, 2027.
Second CJI In BV Nagarathna's Family
Born in 1962, Nagarathna is the daughter of former CJI ES Venkatarami. She began her legal career as an advocate in Bangalore in 1987. Nagarathna joined the Karnataka High Court as an additional judge in 2008. She was made a permanent judge in 2010. She is currently the second most senior judge in the High Court.
Nagarathna's tenure at the HC has remained eventful on several occasions. In 2009, she continued hearing cases despite a call by protesting lawyers to boycott all proceedings in the court. She was also detained along with two other judges by a group of lawyers for carrying out her constitutional duty.
In 2012, she was the part of division bench of the Karnataka HC which directed the Center to set up an autonomous and statutory framework for regulating broadcast media, including television channels.
In 2019, she and two other judges ruled that temple employees in Karnataka would not be entitled to gratuity under the Payments of Gratuity Act, 1972, as temples were not notified by the Centre as commercial establishments.
Currently, the apex court has only one woman judge, Justice Indira Banerjee, who is set to retire in 2022. Till date the apex court has had only eight women judges.