Justices Hemant Gupta, R Subhash Reddy, MR Shah and Ajay Rastogi were on Friday, November 2, sworn in as judges of the Supreme Court, taking its strength to 28.
Unlike last time where the appointment of Judge Joesph has caused bitter war between centre and SC , this time the central government processed the file of their appointments with promptness and notified their appointments in less than 48 hours.
The president had on Thursday, November 1, given his assent to the recommendation of the Supreme Court Collegium for elevating Gupta, Reddy, Shah and Rastogi, who were chief justices of different high courts, as apex court judges.
The apex court has a sanctioned strength of 31. With the elevation of these four new judges, the strength has risen from 24 to 28.
Brief summary of Newly appointed Supreme Court Judges are given herewith :
Justice Hemant Gupta
Justice Gupta was the chief justice of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. He is originally from Punjab and Haryana High Court and was earlier acting chief justice of Patna High Court.
In August 2018, Justice Hemant Gupta was brought under the scanner in a money laundering investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
His wife Alka Gupta was identified as being a “associate and beneficiaries in the process of money-laundering through structuring of shell entities”. Justice Gupta had called the then investigating officer Gopesh Byadwal regarding the investigation into RMC Printers Pvt. Ltd., the company where his wife was a Director until June 27, 2009. This was reported in the Indian Express.
Gopesh Byadwal, the then ED assistant director sent a detailed note underlining the fact that Justice Gupta and his wife had been “identified as associates and beneficiaries in the process of money-laundering through structuring of shell entities”.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had reportedly been asked by the Patna High Court to submit a report on the status of investigation into money laundering allegations against Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer Mukesh Mittal, his clerks and family members according to a report in the Indian Express.
A letter was sent to the Regional Special Director, Chandigarh by the ED Head Office in New Delhi in June 2018, reportedly stating, “I am directed to forward a copy of the letter dated 08.04,2016 of VK Singh, Registrar General, High Court of Patna, in respect of enquiry under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 against Mrs. Alka Gupta, wife of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Hemant Gupta, now Judge of Patna High Court. The Registrar General of the court has requested to know the status and stage of investigation with respect of the aforesaid enquiry for taking steps at their end,”
Justice Mukesh Kumar Rasikbhai Shah
Justice Mukesh Kumar Rasikbhai Shah was appointed as a Judge of the Gujarat High Court on March 7, 2004. He was elevated as Chief Justice of Patna High Court on August 12, 2018 and has been functioning there since then. He will have tenure as a judge of the Supreme Court till January 4, 2023.
Mukesh Rasik Bhai Shah, in the past has termed PM Narendra Modi as a “model and hero”. Shah started his career as a criminal lawyer in 1984 and comes from Gujarat. When asked by Amar Ujala why he was being linked with PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, he replied, “because Modi is a model. He is a hero. As far as Modi is concerned, it is there for the past one month. There are thousands of clippings on social media. The papers are also publishing the same, daily.” (Kyonki Narendra Modi ek model hain. Vah ek hero hain. Jaha tak Modi ki baat hai to pichle ek mahine se yahi chal raha hai. Social Media par ese saikdo clipings hain. Roz paper mein bhi yahi chalata hai) according to a report in the Financial Express.
Justice R Subhash Reddy
He will be the first judge from Telangana to become an SC judge after teh state was carved out from Andhra Pradesh. Justice Reddy was appointed as a judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on December 2, 2002 and was elevated as the chief justice of the Gujarat High Court on February 13, 2016.
Following his enrolment in 1980, Justice Reddy’s areas of practice included Civil, Criminal and Constitutional law. In Gujarat, he was known to directly interact with judges who haven’t performed well and counsels them. If their performance does not improve, they are warned to shape up or ship out.
Justice Ajay Rastogi
Justice Rastogi was appointed as a judge of the Rajasthan High Court in September 2004 and was elevated as chief justice of the Tripura High Court on March 1 this year. He enrolled at the Bar in March 1982 and practiced in the Rajasthan High Court. He became a judge of the Rajasthan High Court in September 2004.
This year, two apex court judges justices Lokur and Kurian Joseph are set to retire while Justice Sikri will demit office in March 2019.
None of the newly appointed judges to the Supreme Court would become the Chief Justice of India, since they will retire much before the tenure of Justice DY Chandrachud who will retire as the Chief Justice of India on November 10, 2024.