Justice Prashant Mishra & Sr Adv KV Viswanathan Sworn-in as Supreme Court Judges

On Friday, May 19, Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra and Senior Advocate KV Viswanathan sworn in as Supreme Court judges.

CJI DY Chandrachud administered the oath of office to both the newly elevated judges in the auditorium of the Supreme Court.

Following the retirement of Justices MR Shah and Dinesh Maheshwari, the SC collegium recommended Justice Mishra and Viswanathan for a seat on the apex court on Tuesday, 16 May.

With this elevation the Supreme Court has again gained its full sanctioned strength of 34 judges. However, four more vacancies are expected to arise by the second week of July.

About Justice KV Vishwanathan

“Shri Viswanathan has a sound understanding of the law and is known in the legal fraternity for his integrity and as an upright senior member of the Bar,” said the Collegium in a statement.

Vishwanathan is set to become the 58th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 2030. In fact, he will be added to the list of lawyers who became CJI after being elevated from the bar.

After being elevated to the position of judge from the bar, Justices SM Sikri and UU Lalit were the two other people who went on to become the Chief Justice of India. Justice P S Narasimha, the current Chief Justice, will become the third CJI to be elevated from the bench.

Vishwanathan has been in the legal profession for over 30 years, representing one of the petitioners in the marriage equality case.

He represented the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) earlier this year in a series of petitions challenging WhatsApp’s 2016 privacy policy. At the time, he informed the Supreme Court that there was no data protection regulation in place, despite the fact that it has a positive obligation to do so.

In its statement, the top court collegium also praised him for assisting the court on a number of cases.

“Viswanathan has appeared in numerous cases involving constitutional law, criminal law, commercial law, insolvency law, and arbitration.” “The Supreme Court has recognised his stature as an eminent member of the Bar in numerous cases where he was appointed to assist the Court as amicus curiae,” the notification said.

When appointed as amicus curae (friend of the court) in a case challenging ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s repeated extensions, he stated: “The extensions are illegal and contrary to the line of judgements.” It is not about the incumbent, but about the principle that underpins such extensions.”

Vishwanathan previously served as an Additional Solicitor General before being appointed as a senior advocate in the Supreme Court in 2009.

Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra, Who Is He?

Prior to his appointment as Chief Justice of the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2021, Justice Mishra served as Acting Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court and as a Judge of the same court.

In fact, the Collegium emphasised that recommending him was critical because there was no representation from the Chhattisgarh High Court among top court judges.

“In addition to representing the state of Chhattisgarh, the appointment of Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra will add value in terms of his acquired knowledge and experience.” “Justice Mishra is a judge of integrity,” according to the resolution.
A bench led by Justice Mishra rejected the Andhra Pradesh government’s plans for three state capitals in March of last year.

The High Court ruled that the state government lacks legislative authority to pass a resolution or law changing the capital or bifurcating or trifurcating the capital city.

After taking power in 2019, the YSRC-led Andhra Pradesh government abandoned plans to develop Amaravati as the state capital, instead opting for three capitals: Amaravati, Visakhapatnam, and Kurnool.

He worked as a lawyer in the Raigarh District Court before becoming a judge, and then in the Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh High Courts.

What factors did the Collegium take into account when recommending Justice Mishra and Advocate Vishwanathan?

In their notification, the collegium (including the Chief Justice and senior most judges) listed the factors that were considered in recommending Justice Mishra and Advocate Vishwanathan:

The seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges in their parent High Courts, as well as the overall seniority of High Court Judges;

The merit, performance, and integrity of the judges under consideration; and the need to ensure diversity and inclusion in the Supreme Court through: (i) representation of High Courts that are not or are insufficiently represented in the Supreme Court; (ii) appointment of persons from marginalised and backward segments of society; (iii) gender diversity; and (iv) representation of minorities.

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