New Delhi: Senior advocate K V Viswanathan, whose name was recommended by the collegium for judgeship in the Supreme Court, will become the 58th Chief Justice of India in August 2030 for a period of over nine months if the Centre gives the nod.
The collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, in its meeting on Tuesday recommended two names — Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Viswanathan — to regain its full sanctioned strength of 34 judges, including the CJI.
Justice MR Shah and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari demitted office within a span of last two days, bringing the strength of the top court to 32 judges.
If the recommendation goes through, Viswanthan will join the elite list of lawyers who went on to become the CJI after being directly elevated to the apex court bench from the Bar.
Justice S M Sikri was the first CJI, who was directly elevated to the apex court bench from the Bar. Justice U U Lalit was second in the list.
Sitting apex court judge Justice P S Narasimha will become the third CJI who was directly elevated from the Bar.
Born on May 26, 1966, Viswanathan, upon his appointment as a judge of the apex court, would serve till May 25, 2031.
“On the retirement of Justice Jamshed Burjor Pardiwala on August 11, 2030, Viswanathan would be in line to assume office as the Chief Justice of India till his retirement on May 25, 2031,” the collegium, which also comprised justices S K Kaul, K M Joseph, Ajay Rastogi and Sanjiv Khanna, said in its recommendation.
The recommendation said at present, there is only one member (Justice P S Narasimha) from the Bar directly appointed to the Supreme Court bench.
It noted the Collegium also considered the names of eminent members of the Bar and zeroed upon senior advocate Viswanathan, saying he is “eminently suitable for being appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court”. “The appointment of K V Viswanathan will enhance the representation to the Bar in the composition of the Supreme Court. Viswanathan is a distinguished member of the Bar of the Supreme Court. His wide experience and profound knowledge will provide a significant value addition to the Supreme Court,” the resolution said.
It said Viswanathan had completed the five-year integrated law degree from Coimbatore Law College, Bharathiyar University, and enrolled with the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu in 1988.
The resolution said after practising before the apex court for over two decades, Viswanathan was designated as a senior advocate in 2009.
It said Viswanathan has appeared in a wide range of cases on diverse subjects including Constitutional law, criminal law, commercial law, the law of Insolvency, and arbitration.
“His stature as an eminent member of the Bar has been recognised by the Supreme Court in numerous cases where he was appointed to assist the Court as amicus curiae,” it said, adding that Viswanathan has a sound understanding of law and is known in the legal fraternity for his integrity and as an upright senior member of the Bar.
During the recent hearings in the apex court on a batch of pleas seeking legal validation for same-sex marriage, Viswanathan had argued before a five-judge Constitution bench for one of the petitioners.