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Recruitment drive: Advocate UU Lalit confirmed for SC judge, plus 3 more ex chief justices

Senior Advocate UU Lalit was cleared for Supreme Court judgeship by the collegium, alongside Meghalaya chief justice Prafull Chandra Pant, Gauhati chief justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Jharkhand chief justice R Banumathi, reported The Hindu.

Lalit will be elevated in place of former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium, as first reported by Legally India. He joined the bar in 1983 and has been practicing in the SC since 1986.

Most mainstream media reports on his elevation have headlined the fact that Lalit has been BJP chief Amit Shah’s lawyer. He will have around seven years as judge at the SC.

Justices Pant, Sapre and Banumathi were all elevated to chief justice last year. Pant became a judge of the Uttarakhand high court in 2004, Sapre became a Madhya Pradesh high court judge in 1999, was transferred to the Rajasthan high court in 2010 and to Chhatisgarh high court in 2012. Banumathi was a direct recuit district judge in 1988 in Tamil Nadu and she was elevated to Madras high court in 2003.

Banumathi, with an over six year term ahead at the SC, will have the longest time at the apex court among the three chief justices.

Media collegium

Last week, unnamed sources, of whom one is a "former three-time president of the Supreme Court Bar Association", reportedly told the Calcutta-based Telegraph, that UU Lalit might be too young for the post because judges apparently fear he might become Chief Justice of India (CJI) for too long.

The unnamed three-time SCBA president apparently said: "Yes, there is a general opposition from judges to the appointment of younger advocates’ elevation to the Supreme Court as they feel their chances of becoming the CJI would be affected." Lalit was in "his 50s" and "may eventually become CJI if elevated", reported the Telegraph but did not specify his exact birthday, which is required to determine exactly whether a judge has a chance of becoming CJI before hitting the retirement age of 65.

Gopal Subramanium's elevation to the bench was scuttled after a series of newspaper reports, relying on unnamed sources (as criticised in The Hoot), stated that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had made adverse findings against Subramanium. Arvind Datar has also been tipped for the Supreme Court bench, according to reports.

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