New Delhi: The Centre has decided to elevate four high court chief justices as SC judges in a bid to clear the backlog of pending cases. The step was notified by the Law Ministry on Thursday night. 

The President of India has issued a notification, appointing  Justices Hemant Gupta, R Subhash Reddy, M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi, who are the Chief Justices of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Patna and Tripura High Courts respectively, as  Supreme Court judges. All of them will be sworn in today.

Justice Hemant Gupta, Justice R. Subhash Reddy, Justice M.R  Shah, and Justice Ajay Rastogi stand at Sl. Nos.4, 5, 17 and 25 respectively in the combined seniority of High Court Judges on all-India basis. 

On October 30, the Collegium comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice A K Sikri and Justice S A Bobde had recommended that judges are “are more deserving and suitable in all respects for being appointed as Judges of the Supreme Court of India”.

While Justice Hemant Gupta was sworn in as the CJ of MP HC on March 18, 2017, Justice Gupta has been serving as the judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court since 2002. Justice Ramayyagari Subhash Reddy was appointed as Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court on February 3, 2016. Justice Mukeshkumar Rasikbhai Shah was appointed CJ of Patna HC on August 4, 2018.

Once the new judges take charge, the strength of the Supreme Court would rise to 28. At present, the apex court has 24 judges, including the Chief Justice of India, while its sanctioned strength is 31. Two judges -- Justices Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph -- are set to retire from the top court, while Justice AK Sikri would demit office in March 2019.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court and the Centre were locked in a tussle over the elevation of the then Uttarakhad High Court chief justice KM Joseph. Despite the Collegium's recommendation, the Centre sat on his file for months, ultimately agreeing with the court.

(with agency inputs)