The Supreme Court is set to get another judge after the Collegium recommended the elevation of Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale.
Should his appointment be confirmed, Justice Varale will be the third Dalit judge in the top court, after Justice BR Gavai – who will be Chief Justice from May to November 2025 – and Justice CT Ravikumar.
This will be the first time ever there will be three Dalit judges in the Supreme Court.
Justice Varela, 61, is a graduate from the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad, has practiced law (specifically civil, criminal, labour, and administrative matters) for over two decades, and previously served in the Bombay High Court.
He was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court in October 2022.
He is currently the senior-most High Court judge, and the only Chief Justice, from a Scheduled Caste.
The court will function at its fully sanctioned strength of 34 once Justice Varale, who will replace Justice SK Kaul, who resigned last month, is appointed.
Earlier this month the Collegium, which is led by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, also recommended to the government five names as additional judges in four High Courts. It also recommended two others – from the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Courts – for permanent appointments.
The appointment of judges through the Collegium system is a frequent and major flashpoint between the court and the centre, with the mechanism drawing criticism from different quarters, including complaints over a lack of transparency in how the judges are chosen.
On January 1 Chief Justice Chandrachud steps had been taken to ensure greater transparency, but explained “(collegium) deliberations can’t be put out in the public realm for a variety of reasons”.
“Many of our discussions are on the privacy of those judges who are under consideration for appointment to the Supreme Court…” he told news agency PTI.
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