The Kerala High Court got four new judges on Monday, with two advocates and two judicial officers, whose judgeship was recently cleared by a Supreme Court collegium, taking the oath of office at Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy’s court in Kochi.
The four new judges are VG Arun, N Nagaresh, TV Anilkumar, and N Anil Kumar, who were sworn in as additional judges in the packed courtroom on Monday.
The Supreme Court collegium comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Kurian Joseph had on 11 October cleared the appointments of three advocates after an interaction with them.
Born in 1964, Justice VG Arun enrolled in the Bar Council of Kerala in 1989. He was the editor of the Indian Law Reports (Kerala series) till recently.
Justice N Nagaresh, who attained his post graduation in law from Government Law College, Ernakulam, enrolled as an advocate in December 1989. He was the Central government counsel in the Kerala High Court from 1998-2004. He served as a member of the disciplinary committee of the Bar Council of Kerala from 2008-11. Justice N Nagaresh was elected to the Bar Council of Kerala in 2011.
Justice TV Anilkumar started his career as a lawyer in 1983. He served as a magistrate at Kattakada, Kayamkulam and Kollam. He was promoted as the Kollam district judge in 2005. He has been serving as Director, Kerala Judicial Academy since October 2016.
Justice N Anil Kumar was born in 1959. He obtained his law degree from Government Law College, Trivandrum. He became the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Ernakulam in 2004.
Speaking after being sworn in on Monday, all four new judges thanked the court and the fraternity and pledged to uphold the trust reposed in them.
A Kerala High Court collegium had earlier this year recommended seven names in all for appointment as judges, and the SC collegium met all seven nominees on 8 October before deciding on them.
While clearing three of the names, the court had deferred the proposal for three other appointments and struck off the seventh recommendation saying he “does not qualify the existing norms”.
The third advocate whose judgeship was cleared by the SC collegium was PV Kunhikrishnan.
On November 1, the President of India’s office notified the appointments of VG Arun and N Nagaresh and district judges TV Anilkumar and N Anil Kumar for a period of two years from the date on which they assume charge.
The Presidential notification for appointment of PV Kunhikrishnan is awaited.
The other four advocates who had been recommended by the Kerala HC collegium for elevation as judges were S. Ramesh, Viju Abraham, George Varghese and P. Gopal.
After considering the recommendations and meeting the seven advocates, the SC collegium had deferred the proposal for appointment of S. Ramesh, Viju Abraham, and George Varghese.
“The proposal for their elevation would be taken up for consideration by the Collegium after some time,” the court had said.
The collegium decided not to recommend the name of Advocate P. Gopal saying he “does not qualify the existing norms”, as “his average net professional annual income for the preceding five years being less than the prescribed income limit applicable in case of Bar members”.
It may be recalled that the Kerala HC collegium’s recommendations had been challenged in the same court with a writ petition alleging that kith and kin of serving/retired judges and an advocate-general had been selected and merit ignored.
The Kerala High Court had dismissed the petition.
Announcing its decision while clearing the three names for elevation, the SC collegium had specified: “We have also taken note of the certain complaints received in the office of Chief Justice of India making allegations against some of the above-named recommendees. On examination, we do not find any prima facie substance in these complaints, which deserve to be ignored.”