Chief Justice DY Chandrachud administered the oath of office to Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale on the Supreme Court’s premises in New Delhi, officially inducting him as a Supreme Court judge. The ceremony not only bolstered the Supreme Court’s strength but also marked a watershed moment in terms of diversity.
With Justice Varale’s elevation, the Supreme Court now stands at its full strength of 34 judges, including the Chief Justice of India. The vacancy arose after the retirement of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on December 25, leaving the court short of one judge.
The Ministry of Law and Justice announced Justice Varale’s appointment on Wednesday, following the Supreme Court collegium’s recommendation on January 19. The collegium emphasized Justice Varale’s extensive experience, starting with his appointment as a judge of the Bombay High Court in 2008 and later as the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court.
Notably, the collegium considered Justice Varale’s seniority among high court judges and highlighted that he is the senior-most judge belonging to a scheduled caste. He also holds the distinction of being the only Chief Justice from a scheduled caste among the chief justices of high courts across the country.
Justice Varale’s elevation brings a noteworthy aspect of diversity to the Supreme Court, as he joins Justices Gavai and CT Ravikumar as the three judges from the Scheduled Caste category for the first time in the court’s history.
Born on June 23, 1962, in Nipani, Karnataka, Justice Varale’s legal journey commenced with graduating in Arts and Law from Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University. He enrolled as an advocate in 1985, embarking on a distinguished career in the legal realm.
In July 2008, Justice Varale was appointed as an Additional Judge of the Bombay High Court, attaining permanent judge status three years later. His tenure of 14 years in the Bombay High Court showcased his dedication and judicial acumen, leading to his subsequent appointment as the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court in October 2022.
Justice Varale, proudly hailing from a family “blessed by Dr B R Ambedkar,” not only brings a wealth of experience but also embodies the spirit of diversity and inclusivity. As he assumes his role in the Supreme Court, his journey stands as a testament to the commitment to justice and the evolving landscape of diversity within the Indian judiciary.