Selection of a woman judge to Supreme Court, collegium split over this decision

Along with Justice Nagarathna's name for consideration which CJI Bobde and another judge had placed before the collegium also comprising Justice N V Ramana, R F Nariman, U U Lalit, and A M Khanwilkar with the hope that if she got through the method of scrutiny and also the government-appointed her, then she would last to become the primary woman CJI after the retirement of Justice Surya Kant as CJI in February 2027.

On the contrary, some members of the collegium opposed the advice of Justice Nagarathna's name, even in women's quota stating that it might cause suppression of several HC chief justices, including Justice Abhay S Oak (Karnataka) and two other senior judges Justice L Narayana Swamy (present CJ of Himachal HC who belongs to the Scheduled Caste community) and Justice Ravi V Malimath (senior judge in Himachal Pradesh and belonging to OBC community).

As observed by the apex court in its fourth judge's case judgment in 2015, both the names gave the impression to be breaching the balance in regional representation among SC judges, while striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission.

A few members of the collegium said if Justice Nagarathna's name was to be recommended for appointment as SC judge, then it should be together with that of Justice Oak.

There will be four judges from Karnataka within the SC if Justice Nagarathna is appointed. If Justice Oak's name is suggested, there'll be five judges from Maharashtra. If the collegium recommends justice Nagarathna, then it could even be accused of ignoring justice Hima Kohli, the senior-most among women HC judges within the country and also the present CJ of Telangana HC.

The collegium members appear to own been caught in a very Catch-22 situation and therefore the sharp division in views over Justices Nagarathna and Oak seems to own pushed the discussion over other names to the background. The SC has five vacancies nowadays against the sanctioned strength of 34.

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